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Will criminal charges automatically result in deportation?

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2024 | Deportation

First, it is important to understand that a criminal charge is not the same as a conviction. In California, a criminal charge is simply an accusation that you have committed a crime. You are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and even if you are not yet a citizen, you have the right to defend yourself against the charges.

If the criminal charges against you lead to a conviction, then that could put your ability to remain in the United States at risk. However, that would significantly depend on the nature of the crime.

Criminal charges that are likely to result in deportation

The federal government, not the state of California, oversees deportation (also known as removal) proceedings. Federal immigration law defines specific categories of crimes that can make you deportable, which include the following:

  • Crimes of moral turpitude committed within a certain time after admission to the U.S
  • Aggravated felonies, which include a broad category of crimes such as rape, murder and some white-collar crimes
  • Controlled substance violations or drug crimes
  • Certain firearm offenses
  • Domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, child neglect or child abandonment

Even if a crime does not fall into these categories, it can still affect an immigrant’s ability to remain in the United States or their eligibility for certain immigration benefits, such as naturalization. If you are a legal permanent resident (LPR) facing criminal charges, a “waiver of removal” may prevent deportation, but you would have to be eligible.

Remember, just because you are not a citizen, does not mean the government can deport you at will. You have rights under the U.S. Constitution, including the right to due process, the right to a fair trial and the right to an attorney.