If You’re a Foreign National Facing Criminal Charges, Read This

wearing handcuffs

Foreign nationals in Illinois may face deportation and removal proceedings if they are convicted of a crime even if they receive a deferred judgment through a plea bargain with the prosecutor. Since a deferred judgment requires defendants to plead guilty and then to comply with the terms of their deferred judgment in exchange for having their guilty pleas withdrawn and the charges dismissed at the end of the time period, the immigration court may still consider it to be a conviction for immigration purposes. Convictions for aggravated felonies will result in an automatic deportation and removal proceeding, and certain misdemeanors and non-violent felonies will also result in deportation and removal proceedings. People should talk to their criminal defense attorneys and their Chicago immigration lawyers before they agree to enter into a plea agreement with the prosecutors who are handling their criminal cases.

What Is a Conviction for Immigration Purposes?

Under the immigration laws, certain criminal convictions will cause deportation and removal proceedings to be initiated. Some offenses such as aggravated felonies will automatically lead to deportation and removal after the person is convicted and has served his or her sentence. Other crimes that are classified as crimes of moral turpitude can also lead to deportation and removal proceedings as can convictions that carry jail sentences of one year or more. Misdemeanor convictions for things such as domestic violence can also prompt deportation and removal. 

If a defendant enters a plea agreement to admit his or her guilt in exchange for a deferred judgment, the admission of guilt will still count as a conviction for immigration purposes even though the guilty plea will ultimately be withdrawn and the charges will be dismissed upon the successful completion of the terms of the deferred judgment. This makes it important for people to talk to their criminal defense attorneys as well as their immigration lawyers so they understand the potential immigration consequences that they might face if they enter a guilty plea or accept a plea bargain for the criminal charges that they are facing. 

Immigration Consequences of Convictions

If people are convicted of crimes for immigration purposes, they may face deportation and removal even if they are lawful permanent residents who have lived in the U.S. for years. If they are here on a visa, they can also lose their visa and be deported back to their home countries and be barred from reentry.