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Individuals from foreign countries sometimes face potential deportation following a criminal conviction.  Whether a criminal act causes immigration consequences to a foreign national is a very important area of immigration law, and understanding the immigration consequences is critical whenever an alien faces criminal charges.  This week’s blog begins a multi-part series addressing the criminal consequences of crimes committed by aliens who have been lawfully admitted to the United States.


Deportation for Individuals who have been lawfully “admitted” to the United States are governed by section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  Section 237(a)(2)(A) generally provides that an alien is deportable if convicted of a “crime involving moral turpitude” committed within 5 years after admission  and for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed.

A significant body of case law defines whether a specific crime rises to the level of “crime involving moral turpitude”.  Generally, this term is defined by most Courts very broadly, such that many crimes that don’t appear to actually involve what a reasonable person would consider as involving “moral turpitude” are legally found to involve moral turpitude. 

For purposes of immigration law, a “conviction” and a “sentence” include a period of probation or deferred adjudication.  Also, as noted above, the statute refers to the maximum possible sentence, not the actual sentence imposed upon the individual.  

Therefore, the accused individual should be very careful in deciding whether to plead guilty to certain offenses.  Criminal aliens and criminal defense attorneys should seek competent legal advice from an experienced immigration attorney prior to deciding how to proceed with the criminal case.  The immigration attorneys at Christiansen Law Firm have significant experience in representing individuals who have been accused of committing a crime involving moral turpitude and are facing possible deportation.  The immigration attorneys at Christiansen Law Firm can advise you regarding the immigration consequences in your particular situation.  For additional information, please contact the Houston or San Antonio offices of Christiansen Law Firm and arrange a free and confidential consultation.


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