Law Offices of

Cynthia R. Exner, LLC



American Immigration Lawyers Association










Criminal Matters


Whether you are undocumented, or a permanent resident of the US, getting arrested for a criminal matter can have very severe consequences. Some people think that just because they have permanent resident status in the US, they cannot be deported/removed from the US. That is incorrect. Convictions for serious offenses or convictions for multiple lesser offenses can result in the forever loss of permanent resident status.

If you are NOT a US citizen, and you are arrested for a criminal offense, it is important to retain an immigration attorney to work alongside your criminal attorney so that any plea bargain or conviction does not result in forever banishment from the United States.

Even a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) can affect your immigration status. Certain motor vehicle offenses can affect your immigration status, so it is important to consult with an immigration attorney about your case.

If you are undocumented and are arrested for a criminal offense, you may be tempted to “plead out” to save the cost of a criminal attorney and a trial on the matter. However, this may NOT be the best avenue to take. If you plead guilty to a criminal offense which is considered by US Citizenship and Immigration Services to be an “aggravated feleony” you could be forever barred from becoming legal in the US. If the state prosecutor and criminal court judge understand that you are willing to plead to possibly two or three lesser offenses because you do not want to be forever barred from the US, it is possible that the prosecutor and criminal judge will agree, since they may not intend for your punishment to be so severe as to forever bar you from the United States.

If a person pleads guilty to a criminal offense, that is considered a conviction for immigration purposes.

However, if a minor pleads out as a delinquent in Juvenile Court, it is possible that this may not be considered a conviction.

It is important to understand that prior convictions in other countries may also be considered convictions which render the immigrant inadmissible to the US, or a forever bar from the US.

If you are already a legal permanent resident of the US (green card holder) and you are convicted of a serious offense, or an aggravated felony in the US, it is still possible to be deported/removed from the US. Only US citizenship may protect a person from deportation/removal from the US.

An “aggravated felony” in immigration context generally refers to a crime for which a sentence of one year or more could have been imposed, even if the state court suspended the entire sentence or imposed no jail time at all.