Can You Get Deported for a DUI or Crime?


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If you are a non-US citizen that needs to know crime or DUI immigration consequences, this guide is for you. Here we review deportable crimes, DUI immigration issues and how DUI affects immigration status and green cards.

Foreign nationals convicted of a “deportable crime” can be deported back to their home country by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and barred from re-entering the US for a number of years.

The risk of deportation applies to ALL non-US citizens, including for example:

-- Permanent residents, green card holders and other visa holders who have lived legally in the US
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for decades and own homes or well established businesses
-- Workers in the US on L1, E2, O1 and H1B visas charged with DUI or crimes
-- International F1 visa students and J1 exchange visa scholars in the US
-- Illegal immigrants who entered the US illegally or stayed past their visa expiration
-- Refugees that have been granted asylum
-- Non-US citizens that have a dependent child who is a US citizen

But hope is not lost. If you are a foreign national in trouble with federal agents or the police, or have DUI green card issues, you should contact our experienced immigration and criminal defense attorneys immediately. Our skilled attorneys know how to aggressively defend you from charges with the goal of avoiding criminal conviction and deportation altogether.

List of Deportable Offenses & Crimes

The list of deportable offenses most common under U.S. law are:

-- Crimes of moral turpitude.
-- Aggravated felonies as defined in INA § 101(a)(43) (dozens of offenses).
-- Violent crimes, theft or forgery with imprisonment of at least 1 year.
-- Trafficking in guns, illicit drugs, humans or destructive devices.
-- Fraud, tax evasion, or money laundering with losses exceeding $10,000.
-- Rape, murder, kidnapping, child pornography or sexual abuse of a minor.

While the above are the most common, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Act 237 and INA § 101(a)(43) outline a long list of “crimes of moral turpitude” and “aggravated felony" convictions that form the basis for deportation. If convicted of these crimes an immigration judge will order the foreign national be deported unless they apply for and receive a waiver of grounds of removal.

What is a Crime of Moral Turpitude?

As defined in immigration law, crimes of moral turpitude (CIMT) involve an act that is depraved, dishonest, or vile. Administrative case law has characterized moral turpitude as "a nebulous concept, which refers generally to conduct that shocks the public conscience." Some examples are rape, fraud, murder, arson, and assault with the intention to rob or kill.

A person may be deported if convicted of a CIMT within five years of admission to the US or if they commit 2 or more unrelated CIMTs during at any time after they are admitted. A petty offense exception may apply if the penalty for the crime is less that 1 year.

What is an Aggravated Felony?

The list of crimes considered deportable aggravated felonies under immigration law (which is different from criminal law) is extensive and defined under INA § 101(a)(43). Congress frequently adds or changes the offenses on the list. Examples of deportable crimes and offenses defined as aggravated felonies include:

-- Violent crimes, theft, bribery, counterfeiting, forgery, perjury, racketeering, or burglary with imprisonment of at least one year
-- Disclosure of classified government information
-- Rape, murder, or kidnapping
-- Domestic violence, child pornography or sexual abuse of a minor
-- Alien smuggling
-- Owning or operating a house of prostitution
-- Fraud, tax evasion, or money laundering with victim losses exceeding $10,000
-- Trafficking in guns, illicit drugs, humans, destructive devices or explosives
-- Conspiracy or an attempt to commit aggravated felonies
-- Treason, espionage or terrorism

Once you are convicted of an aggravated felony, it is very difficult to avoid deportation unless you can prove it is more likely than not that you would be tortured if returned to your native country. A waiver to return to the US will generally be unavailable for almost any purpose.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tsion Chudnovsky
Tsion Chudnovsky is the founder of Chudnovsky Law, a California law firm practicing criminal defense, immigration, DUI defense & personal injury law from offices in Los Angeles, Santa Monica & Newport Beach.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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