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
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
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.