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Criminal representations of aliens

New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyers for Foreign Nationals

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.

New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys Experienced in Representing Non-Citizens

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.

Understanding the Immigration Consequences of Criminal Charges in New Jersey

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):

  • Arson
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Burglary
  • Child sexual assault, child abuse and child pornography
  • Drug crimes
  • Fraud
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Grand Theft
  • Human trafficking (including smuggling, harboring or otherwise helping undocumented aliens enter the U.S. illegally)
  • Illegal possession or sale of firearms
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder
  • Sexual assault
  • Tax evasion

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.

“Deportable Crimes” and “Inadmissible Crimes”: Understanding What is at Risk in Your New Jersey Criminal Case

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.

What are “Deportable Crimes” in New Jersey?

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:

  • “Crimes of moral turpitude” – A “crime of moral turpitude” is one that involves conduct that is considered to be vile, depraved, evil, reprehensible or intrinsically wrong. While moral turpitude is judged on case-by-case basis, crimes that may fall into this category include murder, manslaughter, rape, spousal abuse or child abuse, incest, prostitution, robbery and burglary, and crimes involving fraud.
  • “Aggravated felonies” – Crimes defined as “aggravated felonies” can also lead to deportation. Critically, a crime does not have to be charged as a felony in criminal court in order to constitute an “aggravated felony” for federal immigration purposes. Under federal immigration law, certain specific crimes are defined as aggravated felonies, and other crimes that carry a sentence of one year or longer or that involve more than $10,000 can be classified as aggravated felonies as well. Many crimes of moral turpitude are also aggravated felonies, as are crimes such as perjury and obstruction of justice.
  • Controlled substances (drug) offenses – Certain drug offenses can lead to possible deportation, while other drug offenses can lead to mandatory removal. “Optional” deportable drug crimes include possession more than 30 grams of marijuana and certain crimes committed by individuals who are diagnosed as drug addicts or abusers. Mandatory deportable drug offenses include crimes of moral turpitude, aggravated felonies and combined drug charges carrying five or more years of incarceration.
  • Crimes of domestic violence – Crimes of violence committed against current and former spouses, parents of shared children, domestic partners, and other protected individuals can lead to deportation as well. Under federal immigration law, crimes of violence include those that involve the use, attempted use or threatened use of force, or that otherwise involve a substantial risk of physical harm to another.
  • Firearms (gun) offenses – While not necessarily a separate category, firearms offenses are common triggers for deportation proceedings. Individuals convicted of crimes of moral turpitude, aggravated felonies, drug offenses, and domestic violence offenses involving guns can face immediate deportation by DHS.

What are “Inadmissible Crimes” in New Jersey?

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.

What Happens if You are Arrested as a Non-Citizen in New Jersey?

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:

  • Fines
  • Jail or prison time (including a possible mandatory minimum sentence without parole eligibility)
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Education, counseling and therapy
  • Loss of driving privileges, loss of gun rights and other consequences

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.

Speak with a New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer in Confidence

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.


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