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As a foreign national, facing criminal charges in New Jersey can have severe consequences for your immigration status. Many times, prosecutors will offer aliens an “easy” plea such as probation, time-served, short-term incarceration, or a fine. However, these offers are deceptively attractive, and taking the quick way out can turn out to be the biggest mistake that a foreign national ever makes.
Why? If you plead guilty to certain types of crimes, you can face deportation regardless of the terms of your plea. Additionally, even if you are able to avoid deportation, accepting a plea could result in a loss of your eligibility for a green card or U.S. citizenship. These are severe outcomes that should be avoided if at all possible, and in order to protect yourself and preserve your immigration status or eligibility, you will need to rely on the advice and representation of an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney.
If you are facing charges as a foreign citizen, it is imperative that you hire a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer who has specific experience representing non-citizens. Even the most seasoned and experienced criminal defense attorneys who lack knowledge of the federal immigration system will struggle to understand the immigration consequences of criminal pleas and convictions. At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., our criminal defense lawyers and immigration lawyers work together to ensure that we are pursuing the best possible outcomes for our foreign clients, and we help our clients make smart decisions with due consideration for the potential immigration consequences involved.
As a resident or non-resident alien living in New Jersey, if you plead guilty to certain crimes or are convicted of these crimes in court, you may soon be contacted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If ICE issues a “Notice to Appear” or an “Order to Show Cause,” this means that you are at risk for deportation . You will have to go to court again – this time before a federal immigration judge – and the judge will determine whether you should be deported as a result of your crime. Criminal offenses that can potentially put non-citizens at risk for deportation in New Jersey include (but are not limited to):
Due to the potential immigration consequences of accepting a plea deal or facing a criminal conviction in court, as a foreign national, you need to do everything possible to protect yourself during your criminal case. This starts with hiring experienced defense counsel as soon as possible. At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., we represent non-citizens in state and federal cases throughout New Jersey, and our attorneys can use their experience to make sure the consequences of your arrest are no greater than necessary.
The immigration consequences of a guilty plea or criminal conviction can vary depending on the circumstances involved in your case. This includes the nature of your alleged crime, your criminal record (if any) and your current immigration status. For federal immigration purposes, criminal offenses are placed into two categories: (i) deportable crimes, and (ii) inadmissible crimes. The offenses listed above can fall into either or both categories.
Deportable crimes are those that can result in removal from the United States. If you are not a U.S. citizen and you plead guilty or are convicted of a deportable crime, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can initiate removal proceedings immediately. Deportable crimes include:
An inadmissible crime is one which does not result in immediate deportation, but instead results in being prohibited from re-entering the United States if you leave the country. Inadmissible crimes can also have immigration consequences including:
Crimes of moral turpitude, drug offenses, and multiple convictions carrying five or more years of incarceration can all potentially be classified as inadmissible crimes. As you can see, there is overlap between what constitutes a deportable crime and what constitutes an inadmissible crime; and, in order to determine the immigration consequences of your criminal charge in New Jersey, you will need to discuss your situation with an experienced defense attorney.
If you are arrested for an alleged crime in New Jersey and you are a citizen of a foreign country, your criminal case will proceed just as it would if you were born in the United States. However, the immigration consequences of your arrest can begin immediately, and you will need to have an attorney who is capable of handling the immigration aspects of your case while also preparing your criminal defense.
For example, one thing that can happen to you if you are a foreign citizen is that you can be placed in an “immigration hold.” This involves being detained by ICE, and it can trigger immigration-related proceedings (including possible deportation) while your criminal case is pending. At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., we have extensive experience representing aliens in all aspects of criminal and immigration proceedings, and our defense attorneys can fight to preserve your immigration status while also working to protect you against the non-immigration-related consequences of a conviction. Don’t forget—even if you are able to remain in the United States, a criminal conviction in New Jersey state court could still lead to consequences including:
Do not let an arrest in New Jersey impact your life in more ways than necessary. Contact Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. today so that our defense attorneys can fight to protect your immigration status and help you avoid the life-altering consequences of a guilty plea or conviction. Our attorneys have centuries of combined experience, and we have helped numerous clients throughout New Jersey successfully protect their freedom and their immigration status.
For legal advice custom-tailored to your criminal charges and immigration status, please contact us to schedule a confidential initial consultation with one of our experienced defense lawyers. To schedule an appointment as soon as possible, call us at 877-435-6371 or tell us how to reach you online now.
Don’t let your rights be jeopardized.