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Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions in Washington State

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Immigrating to the United States is a strict process, and immigrants must adhere to specific rules and regulations if they want to remain in the country. Informing the government of their current address, waiting for legal authorization to begin a job, and following the law are some of the most important components of maintaining immigration status. If an immigrant receives a conviction for a crime in Washington state, he or she can face fines, jail time, and even deportation.

Which Crimes Lead to Deportation?

There are three main types of crimes that can lead to a deportation: crimes of moral turpitude, aggravated felonies, or other crimes specified by the law.

According to the Department of State, crimes of moral turpitude usually involve fraud, larceny, and the intent to harm other people or things. However, the definition of these types of crimes is not always clear. Examples of this type of crime may include grand theft, assault with the intent to rob or kill, or domestic violence.

An immigrant can face deportation for a crime of moral turpitude if he or she committed it within the first five years of living in the United States or he or she commits two separate crimes of moral turpitude at any point after admission into the country.

According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, aggravated felonies may include murder, rape, child pornography, money laundering, tax evasion, and many more. Other crimes that may be grounds for deportation include child abuse, stalking, drug crimes, human trafficking, and terrorist activity. Immigrants should speak to an attorney if they are concerned about deportation following a criminal conviction.

Will You Be Deported If Convicted of a Crime?

United States federal law expects all immigrants to follow federal, state, and local laws when living in the country, and takes any criminal conviction very seriously. Not all crimes will lead to deportation, however. As stated before, immigrants are at risk of deportation if they receive a criminal conviction for a crime of moral turpitude, aggravated felonies, or another crime specified by the law.

There are some exceptions to these guidelines, since the definition of a crime of moral turpitude is often unclear. If the court determines the crime to be a petty offense, an immigrant convicted of a crime of this nature may not face deportation at all. In addition, if the immigrant committed the crime five or more years after he or she initially entered the United States, he or she is usually not deportable.

Since so many rules and exceptions are in place regarding immigrants, criminal convictions, and removal from the United States, it is best to speak with an attorney to determine if a crime is grounds for deportation. An attorney can assist an immigrant with understanding his or her rights and risks, as well as defending him or her against the charges prior to trial.

What Other Immigration Consequences Come with a Conviction?

After a criminal conviction, an immigrant can face several consequences in addition to deportation. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers may arrest the immigrant themselves and place him or her in detention prior to deportation. During detention, ICE officers will revoke the immigrant’s status and remove him or her back to his or her country of origin. The immigrant may also receive a ban from entering the United States for a certain period of time — even if he or she has family still residing in the country.

If you are an immigrant residing in Washington state, it is important to follow the law as closely as possible to avoid deportation. If you are facing a criminal conviction, it is crucial to have a lawyer on your side to advocate for your story. Contact a Tacoma criminal defense attorney as soon as possible following your arrest to discuss your legal options and begin strategizing your next steps.

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