Immigration statuses and felony convictions

It’s never good to be charged with a crime. It’s even worse if it’s an aggravated offense. If you’re intending to become a citizen of the United States, then a criminal conviction on your record could jeopardize your ability to remain here.

The “aggravated felony” was first used in this country in 1988. The terminology encompassed crimes such as federal drug or firearms trafficking offenses and murder. It now includes more than 30 other crimes including failing to appear in court, filing a false tax return, simple battery, theft and sexual abuse of a minor.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows for both aggravated and non-aggravated felons to be deported from the U.S. This is especially the case if a convicted defendant hasn’t yet been classified as a lawful permanent resident. Those individuals may be deported without being afforded a formal hearing in front of an immigration judge. These individuals generally aren’t entitled to appeal their cases to the Board of Immigration Appeals or to qualify for asylum or any other discretionary relief either. Deportation takes as little as two weeks once the judge has entered in their order.

Immigrants who’ve been deported from the U.S. after an aggravated felony conviction are generally barred from reentering the country once again. They can petition the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for an exception to the rule. These requests seldom get approved though.

Any convicted felon who illegally reenters the U.S. may be sentenced to up to 20-years in prison. This contrasts with the 2-year prison sentence that non-aggravated felons would receive for the same crime.

If you’re an immigrant facing aggravated felony charges here in Texas, then your days in the U.S. could be numbered if you’re convicted of such an offense. This can be unnerving for you if you’ve you’ve planted your roots or started a family here in Edinburg. This is why you should consult with a criminal defense attorney who’s prepared to fight aggressively for your rights when both your freedom and immigration status are on the line.