Impact of Criminal Charges on DC Deportation Defenses

You can be placed into removal proceedings in front of an immigration judge if you are just charged with a crime and detained even if it’s a crime that doesn’t carry very severe immigration consequences. But this is only if you’re here illegally. So if you’re here without status committing a crime even if you’re not convicted is a good way for ICE to pick you up and find out that you’re unlawfully present. But if you are here lawfully then you need to be convicted before your criminal situation will become a problem.

If either of these situations applies to you, call and schedule a consultation with a deportation defense attorney in DC today.

Probation Before Judgment and Deferred Sentencing

Probation before judgment (PBJ) and deferred sentencing may also have an impact on your immigration status. It’s a case by case determination. You need to evaluate the language of the charging document and of the final disposition of the case to determine whether it qualifies as a conviction under immigration law. Sometimes, these alternative sentencing agreements can avoid immigration consequences, but not always.

Diversion Programs

Sometimes these can also preserve your immigration status. There is a first-time drug offender program in Virginia, for example, that can help to avoid immigration consequences, but it differs by state and jurisdiction. It’s very important to have an immigration attorney evaluate the potential plea or diversion program before you make a decision on whether or not to accept it.

Removal Proceedings

Removal proceedings are heard in one of the many immigration courts throughout the country. They are considered administrative courts and they are presided over by immigration judges. The trial attorney or the prosecutor in the case will be an individual employed by the Department of Homeland Security. Those people are generally trying to argue that the criminal offense or whatever immigration violation you’ve committed should make you deportable. Your immigration attorney will argue that there is a defense to allow you to preserve your status or to gain new lawful status in the United States.

Removal Proceedings After a Conviction

It depends on what your conviction is and what your immigration status is. If you’ve only been charged with a crime, it will not make you deportable or removable – in other words, no one will be able to place you into detention or start a case in immigration court if you’re in otherwise lawful immigration status at that point. You actually have to have a final conviction in order for the full immigration consequences to come into effect. So, you’re not immediately put into removal proceedings when the criminal trial is commenced. Instead, the government will wait for the conviction to become final and then they will make a discretionary decision on whether or not they want to issue something called an NTA, or a notice to appear in immigration court.

If they decide to issue a notice to appear in your case, it means you’re going to be forced to appear before the immigration court to defend yourself against deportation. There are other issues that can come into play like detention as well. There are certain criminal offenses that will subject you to mandatory detention by ICE during the entire time the immigration proceedings are pending. So that’s something you want to be very careful of if you’re a non-citizen who has committed a crime.

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