How do criminal charges affect your right to remain in the U.S.?

If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may wonder if getting in trouble with the law could jeopardize your immigration status. 

Criminal charges can result from all sorts of situations, including those where you did not do anything wrong or did not intend to do anything wrong.

For example, maybe someone attacked you in a bar. You reacted to defend yourself and ended up facing assault charges. Or, perhaps you were at work and followed your boss’s orders only to find yourself embroiled in a fraud case.

Few singular criminal charges are enough to get you deported

The U.S. immigration authorities will sometimes pressure judges to remove people from the country, reasoning that the person poses a threat. If a court convicts you of a particularly violent crime, then a judge may agree it is better if you are removed.

Another option the authorities have is to argue that you do not have the necessary moral character to retain the right to stay. A conviction for fraud could lead to this conclusion, while a single conviction for drunk driving probably will not. A history of repeated law-breaking might, and each further charge strengthens the immigration authority’s claims that you lack sufficient moral character.

Because a judge’s opinion can often be the deciding factor in deportation cases, it is crucial you seek experienced legal defense to argue your case. Trying to do it yourself increases the chance that the immigration authorities will succeed in painting a picture of you as someone whose presence provides a threat to safety or standards.

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