How a Criminal Conviction Can Affect Your Immigration Status

Texas has a large immigrant population and the law is often more harsh on immigrants than on citizens.  While it certainly may not seem fair to treat immigrants differently when it comes to criminal charges and convictions, especially for lawful permanent residents, immigrants should be overly cautious of the consequences of being arrested, charged and possibly convicted of a crime.  You may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, or maybe you made one bad mistake.  You may otherwise be a law-abiding citizen, so any criminal charge is definitely a scary situation for immigrants.

In Texas, as in all other states, immigrants may be subject to possible removal from the United States for crimes they are convicted of, even if the immigrant has lawful permanent “green card” resident status.  Many lawful permanent residents do not realize that they may be exposed to the same types of penalties that illegal residents are exposed to.  This is a process that is unfortunately not explained well to the immigrant population.  While an immigration attorney can be of great assistance when it comes to immigration proceedings, a criminal defense attorney is extremely important in the process of defending you with the crime you have been charged with.

Most importantly, the more serious the crime is, the harsher the results may be on the immigrant.  For example, if you are charged with a serious drug crime such as possession and intent to distribute, you may very well be removed or “deported” to your home country.  If you have already been naturalized and granted United States citizenship status, this citizenship may be revoked.  However, if you are charged with possession of drugs alone, the consequences may not result in removal, but can certainly have an impact on your ability to obtain citizenship in the future.

Further, the immigration laws are just as or even more confusing than the criminal laws of Texas.  Strangely, if you are placed on probation for a drug crime, this can be just as detrimental to your immigrant status as if you plead guilty and been sentenced to the maximum jail time.  This seems very odd for many people, but probation is deemed to be a full conviction and often may not be the best option for immigrants when in the process of being charged with a crime.  Sometimes short jail time has less of an impact on your immigrant status, and may not result in a full conviction like probation.  Because the process is different for each case, it is extremely important that you have a criminal defense attorney on your side experienced in the crime you have been charged with.  You likely will need to seek advice from an immigration attorney as well, and both attorneys may be able to work together on your case.

If you have been charged with a crime and have immigrant status, whether you are an illegal resident, a permanent resident with a green card, or are a naturalized citizen, contact our firm as soon as possible to speak with Attorney Jack Pettit.  Mr. Pettit has over three decades of experience as a criminal defense attorney and will evaluate your case with great detail.  Mr. Pettit has successfully defended clients charged with DUI’s, traffic offenses, drug offenses as well as many other crimes.  Regardless of the crime you have been charged with, Mr. Pettit can give you the best advice on what steps to take.  While you still may need to seek advice from an immigration attorney, Mr. Pettit will be able to give you the best guidance possible on how to defend your criminal charge.  Call us today to schedule an appointment.  We can be reached at 214-521-4567.  Our firm offers services in both English and Spanish.  We accept most major credit cards.

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