Charged With a Crime in NJ and Not a Citizen?
If you are not a United States citizen and you have been charged with a criminal offense in New Jersey, you are probably concerned about whether you can be deported if you are convicted of a crime. The answer depends on two main factors: your immigration status and what crime you are convicted of. To explore these variables and help you to better understand your risk for removal from the U.S., we will consider each type of immigration status and what crimes make you subject to removal under each. To discuss your specific criminal charges and immigration situation with an attorney who can help, contact our New Jersey Defense Law Firm today at (201) 793-8018 for a free consultation.
Criminal Charges Against the Undocumented in New Jersey
If you are undocumented because you entered the country unlawfully without inspection or you overstayed a visa, then you are removable regardless of the type of crime you committed. In short, even if you are not convicted of a crime, you may be removed from the U.S. You may be eligible to apply for some form of relief like asylum, but Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will be able to establish your removability without presenting any records of conviction.
In some cases, an ICE prosecutor may extend prosecutorial discretion in your case. This is also known as “PD” and it means that the prosecutor has agreed to have the immigration judge administratively close your case. It does not grant you status, but it means that ICE is basically letting you go for now, while reserving the right to bring you back to court at any time. The agency guidelines for extending PD vary from one presidential administration to the next, however, if you have a conviction for even a petty disorderly persons offense, you are not likely to be offered PD.
If you fear that you will be persecuted based on your religion, race, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or your political opinion, you may be eligible to apply for asylum. There is a bar to asylum if you are convicted of a particularly serious crime which includes any aggravated felony (or indictable offense in New Jersey), violent crimes, or other crimes that immigration officials deem to be “particularly serious” including aggravated assault, sexual assault, robbery, and murder, to name a few.
Overall, as an undocumented individual, if you are unable to prevail on any application for relief, you may be ordered removed/deported.
Have a Visa, Arrested in NJ
If you have status in the U.S. through a non-immigrant visa or temporary or permanent residency (green card or conditional green card) and you are convicted of a criminal offense, you may be deported if the offense you are convicted of falls under a ground for removability. Under U.S. immigration law, grounds of removability include crimes involving moral turpitude, aggravated felonies, gun-related crimes, drug crimes, treason, espionage, domestic violence, and failure to register as a sex offender.
What Is a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT)?
A crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) is something that shocks the public conscience. It can include crimes like robbery, rape, or murder. Notably, more common crimes involving theft also qualify as crimes of moral turpitude. For instance, theft of services and even shoplifting are moral turpitude offenses in New Jersey that may negatively impact your immigration status. A person is deportable if they commit one CIMT within 5 years of being admitted into the U.S. You are deportable at any time if you commit two or more CIMTs.
Do I Need a Criminal Defense or Immigration Lawyer for My Case?
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in New Jersey, you need to hire a criminal defense lawyer to defend you in court. If you are charged with a disorderly persons offense, your case will be heard in the municipal court of the town or city where you were charged and if you are charged with an indictable offense, your case will be heard at the superior court in the county where you were charged. Your case in immigration court will be handled separately. For that case, you have one of two options. You can hire an attorney who solely practices immigration law, or you can enlist the services of a criminal defense attorney who has experience handling immigration matters arising out of criminal charges. The attorneys at our firm are the latter of the two, meaning we are equipped to help you with all aspects of your current criminal and immigration situation.
Afraid of Being Deported if Convicted in New Jersey?
If you are not a U.S. citizen, being convicted of an offense in New Jersey can have dramatic consequences for your life. The best strategy when you find yourself in this precarious position is to avoid a conviction in the first place. If you or a loved one is a non-citizen arrested and charged with a crime in New Jersey, call the experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at William Proetta Criminal Law at (201) 793-8018 for immediate assistance. Our consultations are free and completely confidential.