If a judge or jury convicts you of certain offenses, you may spend time behind bars. Accepting a plea deal is often an effective way to minimize the potential consequences of a criminal charge. Still, while a plea may help you settle a criminal matter, it may not be good for your immigration status.
Whether you are a citizen, legal permanent resident, visa holder or undocumented immigrant, you have certain rights under the U.S. Constitution. An important one is the right to legal counsel for many criminal matters. Still, your criminal defense attorney may not understand the intricacies of immigration law. As such, even if you have a criminal lawyer, you likely want to talk to an immigration attorney before accepting a plea deal.
A plea may result in your deportation
If your criminal defense attorney negotiates a plea deal that does not require you to serve a jail sentence, you may think you have avoided serious consequences. Unfortunately, though, some pleas may make you deportable. The intersection of criminal law and immigration law can be difficult to understand. Therefore, rather than risking your removal from the United States, you should understand the immigration consequences of any criminal charge you face and any plea you are considering.
A plea may make you inadmissible
If you plan to seek legal permanent residence or citizenship, you must realize that criminal charges often make individuals ineligible for one or both. Often, crimes involving moral turpitude and crimes of violence interfere with immigration benefits. Further, even some types of uncharged conduct may make it impossible for you to gain an immigration status.
When it comes to criminal charges and your immigration status, details matter. While taking a plea may make your criminal defense attorney happy, you should understand how a plea deal may interfere with your immigration status or future plans.