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Immigration Consequences for Criminal Charges

Immigration Consequences for Criminal Charges

For those who currently have an immigrant status in the United States, criminal charges can come with severe consequences, including deportation. Under federal law, convictions of certain types of crimes can make a foreign national deportable.

Under the Immigration and Nationality act of 1965, there are several types of criminal charges that can result in deportation and other immigration consequences, including but not limited to:

  • "Crimes of moral turpitude," given it meets certain requirements
  • Aggravated felonies
  • Domestic violence

That is just a small sampling of the criminal charges that can have immigration consequences. We will outline the full list and potential immigration consequences below.

However, if you are currently facing any charges that could affect your immigration status here in LA, you should contact us immediately at 323-655-5700 for a free consultation to discuss your case.

William Kroger has been a top LA criminal defense attorney for decades and has experience fighting all manner of criminal charges.

What Criminal Charges can Affect My Immigration Status in LA?

Under federal law, convictions of certain crimes can make a foreign national deportable. Specifically, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 outlines several types of crime that can affect immigration status, up to and including deportation. Below is a full summary of the potential convictions that can lead to deportation or revocation of any immigration status.

Under 8 USC §1227 (2), these are the crimes which can result in deportation for an immigrant in the United States:

Type of CrimeEligibility Requirements
Crimes of Moral Turpitude
  • Committed within 5 years of admission into the country
  • Has a potential penalty of 1 year or longer in prison or jail


  • Two or more crimes of moral turpitude were committed, so long as they were not from the same event
    • This applies even if both convictions were charged in a single trial
Aggravated FeloniesAny conviction of an aggravated felony makes a person eligible for deportation, regardless of how long after admission to the country it occurred
High Speed FlightAny conviction of high speed flight from an immigration checkpoint (18 USC §758) is eligible for deportation
Failure to Register as a Sex OffenderAny conviction of failing to register as a sex offender when required (18 USC §2250) is eligible
Violations of Controlled Substance Laws

Any conviction relating to violating controlled substance laws, in the US or another country, is eligible, unless:

  • It was a single offense for possession of 30 grams of marijuana or less for personal use
Being Addicted to a Controlled SubstanceSimilarly, any charge of being addicted to a controlled substance at any point after admission is eligible
Miscellaneous Firearm OffensesAny conviction of buying, selling, exchanging, owning, any firearm or destructive device (according to 18 USC §921a) in violation of any law can be eligible for deportation
  • This also applies to any conviction of conspiring to commit those crimes
Domestic ViolenceAny conviction of these crimes, regardless of time after admission to the country, can result in deportation:
  • Domestic Violence
  • Stalking
  • Child abuse, neglect, or abandonment
Violating a Protective OrderA conviction of violating a court issued protective order (such as a restraining order) in a manner that involves:
  • Credible threats of violence
  • Repeated harassment of the victim
  • Any bodily injury
Human Trafficking OffensesAnyone who falls under 18 USC §1182(a)(2)(H) is eligible for deportation, which includes anyone who:
  • Committed, or conspired to commit, an act of human trafficking
  • Helped, assisted, or otherwise aided an offense of human trafficking
  • Knowingly obtained any benefit, financial or otherwise, from human trafficking within 5 years
    • o This applies to any spouse, son, or daughter who received benefits, unless they were a child at the time
Other Miscellaneous Crimes

There are a handful of other miscellaneous convictions that can make a person eligible for deportation:

What is a Crime of Moral Turpitude?

A major factor of whether or not a criminal conviction will affect your citizenship status is whether or not it was a “crime of moral turpitude.”

The term “moral turpitude” does not have a legal definition, technically speaking. However, in Navarro-Lopez v. Gonzalez, the 9th circuit federal court of appeals identified crimes of moral turpitude as “crimes that involve either fraud or base, vile, and depraved conduct that shocks the public conscience.”

This includes a broad range of crimes, including but not limited to:

  • Aggravated felonies
  • Controlled substance offenses
  • Certain firearm offenses
  • Human trafficking of any kind
  • Treason or espionage

Most crimes of moral turpitude are already outlined in the chart above, but since the definition is not concrete, there may be others which could also be considered crimes of “moral turpitude.”

What is an Aggravated Felony?

The term “aggravated felony” shows up often when discussing criminal charges and immigration status, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. For the purposes of immigration law, an aggravated felony does not have to be either aggravated or a felony, at least not the typical way those words are used in normal criminal law.

In immigration law, an aggravated felony is any crime which the U.S. Congress has listed in USC 8 §1101(a)(43), and includes but is not limited to:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Simple battery
  • A large number of charges involving firearms or explosives
  • Human trafficking
  • Running a prostitution ring

This is just a small sampling of the total list of convictions which the U.S. Congress considers “aggravated felonies” for immigrations purposes. The most important thing to remember is that a conviction does not need to technically be a felony to be considered an “aggravated felony” for immigration purposes. Even misdemeanors can be “aggravated felonies,” so long as they are on the list.

Does a Misdemeanor Charge Still Affect My Immigration Status?

California classifies criminal charges into various categories: Felonies, Misdemeanors, and Infractions (in descending order of severity). However, for those in the country with an immigration status, it can depend on much more than just the severity of the charge.

Misdemeanor charges can still affect your immigration status. There are several misdemeanor charges that can affect your immigration status, including but not limited to:

  • Burglary, shoplifting, and theft misdemeanors
  • Assault and/or battery
  • Domestic violence, as discussed above
  • Many misdemeanors relating to controlled substances, including possession of marijuana

However, that does not mean there are not legal strategies which can be used to help keep misdemeanors of those sorts from affecting your immigration status.

Criminal Charges and Immigration Status: How We Can Help

Even seemingly minor criminal charges can have major impacts on a person’s quality of life and their immigration status here in the states, and we understand just how devastating a sudden change in status can be to someone and their family.

With decades of experience as criminal defense lawyer in LA and a proven track record, William Kroger and the rest of our legal team are your best option for a successful defense. William is a known and trusted presence in the LA criminal defense system, and he, along with the rest of our legal team here, will work hard to ensure you have the best chance at a successful trial.

If you are currently facing any criminal charges which you believe may affect your immigration status, contact us immediately at 323-655-5700, or right here online, for a free consultation to review the details of your case. The sooner you get in touch, the sooner we can begin preparing your defense.

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