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best criminal defense lawyer boston ma
  • Matthew W. Peterson

Will My Criminal Case Get Me Deported?

Updated: Mar 13



Picking up criminal charge can be dangerous if you’re not a citizen. Whether you’re here legally or not, any noncitizen can be deported for committing a crime, even seemingly minor ones. This is why it’s important to hire a lawyer who knows immigration law if you’re a noncitizen charged with a crime.

What is a conviction?

This may seem like it would be simple, but, unsurprisingly, Congress made the concept of a conviction complicated when it comes to immigration. To be a “conviction,” the proceeding must fit one of the two following definitions:

1. A formal judgment of guilt entered by a court.

OR

2(a). A judge or jury found you guilty, you pled guilty, you pled nolo contender, or you admitted sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilt

AND

2(b). The judge has ordered some form of punishment, penalty, or restraint on the alien’s liberty.

This means that any kind of plea followed by a penalty – from probation and court costs to time in prison – qualifies as a conviction for immigration purposes, even if Massachusetts law doesn’t consider it a conviction. This includes cases where the case will be dismissed later when you complete probation or pay some money.


IMPORTANTLY: a continuance without a finding (CWOF) IS a conviction under immigration law. This is because it requires you to admit your guilt, and there's a punishment involved (usually probation).

Some of the things we know are NOT convictions are juvenile delinquency proceedings, possibly youthful offender adjudications, and diversion programs that don’t require you to plead.

What kind of crimes can get me deported?

The short answer is that almost any crime can result in deportation. However, there are a few different categories of crimes that can mean particular trouble for noncitizens.

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Crimes of moral turpitude that carry a possible sentence of one year or more can lead to deportation. This means that even a misdemeanor that carries a possible one year sentence can qualify.

The list of crimes of moral turpitude is long: murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, voluntary manslaughter, theft, spousal abuse, any crime involving fraud, and some aggravated DUI offenses.

Aggravated Felonies

Conviction for an aggravated felony any time after entry can mean deportation. Even though it seems like this would only apply to serious crimes, aggravated felonies neither have to be aggravated nor felonies. The list is also long, running the gamut from forgery to murder.

Drug Offenses

Drug offenses can result in some of the harshest penalties for noncitizens. Any drug offense, other than possession of marijuana under 30 grams, can mean deportation as well. Drug crimes can also disqualify you from discretionary relief from deportation.

Gun Crimes

Almost any crime that involves a firearm can result in deportation.

Domestic Violence

Not only can a conviction for domestic violence cause deportation, but so can violating a restraining order.

If you’re a noncitizen charged with a crime, it’s important to hire an immigration attorney to help you. Otherwise, a minor crime can result in a major penalty – deportation. I handle criminal cases in all Massachusetts courts, and I can help prevent your criminal case from resulting in your removal. Call me today at 617-356-8217, and let's get started on your defense.

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