Immigration Criminal Lawyer in Phoenix
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It’s no secret that certain areas of the law can overlap. If you have been charged with a crime and are undocumented, it is vitally important to hire an attorney who understands both areas of the law. At YMLG, you can count on hiring a firm that understands the intricacies of crimmigration law. While knowledge of criminal law is critical, it’s also important to understand the immigration law consequences if someone is convicted of a crime. If you’re facing a criminal conviction as an undocumented immigrant, we highly recommend searching for a Phoenix criminal defense attorney with extensive knowledge and experience in both areas. An immigration criminal lawyer will have the skills and knowledge you need for your case.
Our law firm exists to serve undocumented communities in Phoenix, Arizona. Ybarra Maldonado Law Group has extensive experience defending immigrants and their families against deportation, fighting alongside our communities to preserve their legal rights, and informing them of their options. Our priority is to ensure that the families we serve are well-informed and well-prepared to fight against criminal convictions. If you need a qualified criminal immigration lawyer, the legal team at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group is a law firm you can trust. Call us today to schedule a complimentary case evaluation with one of our experienced legal intake specialists or attorneys, please call our Phoenix law office at 602-910-4040 today.
What Is Crimmigration?
Crimmigration is a term that has cropped up in recent years. It basically refers to the crossover between immigration law and criminal law. Due to the changing political climate in the United States, criminal immigration law is a subject of intense debate. Currently, an undocumented resident can face serious immigration consequences for even minor criminal charges. This is why it is imperative that any law firm handling both criminal and immigration law stay up to date on all relevant changes on how these practice areas overlap.
The basic idea behind crimmigration is that an undocumented person who is convicted of a crime could lose their immigration benefits or even face removal proceedings. If you are charged with a crime, you need an attorney who can both defend you against the charges and advocate on your behalf in front of immigration authorities.
What Is a Criminal Immigration Lawyer?
A criminal and immigration attorney is someone who has the knowledge and experience of winning criminal cases while at the same time having a deep understanding of the immigration consequences associated with criminal accusations and convictions. An experienced criminal and immigration attorney can make the difference between an undocumented person staying in the country with their family or being deported.
Many amazing criminal defense attorneys do not know the immigration consequences of pleading guilty to a certain crime. While an experienced criminal attorney could think it would be acceptable to have their Lawful Permanent Resident client plead guilty to a certain offense, that offense may have severe immigration consequences, perhaps even deportation. Put simply, many criminal attorneys lack the immigration experience to adequately advise their clients of the potential immigration consequences of that particular offense.
At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we focus on understanding the potential immigration consequences of every criminal case we have for non-citizens. For a free case evaluation of your criminal and immigration case, give the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group a call today at 602-910-4040.
Do I Need an Immigration and Criminal Lawyer?
Anyone who is undocumented and has a criminal case should be properly informed of the potential immigration consequences of their case. The last thing a Legal Permanent Resident wants is to be told to plead guilty by their criminal lawyer and then, down the road, be placed in an immigration detention center and have their papers taken away because of their guilty plea. Likewise, anyone who has DACA or lacks status needs to be properly informed if their status will be taken away or if they will be unable to adjust to legal permanent residency in the future.
How Do I Know if My Criminal Case Will Affect My Immigration Status?
Only an experienced immigration attorney can properly analyze the consequences of your accusation/conviction. It is not safe to assume that simply because you have been living in the United States for an extended period of time or that you have United States Citizen children that the Immigration Judge will allow you to stay in the country. Oftentimes the Immigration Judge is left without legal authority to let you stay in the country if you plead guilty to a certain crime.
The immigration laws in the United States contain many grounds of inadmissibility and grounds of removability. In other words, there is a fairly long list of deportable crimes to be aware of. An experienced attorney needs to be able to look at your charges, plea agreement, conviction, and current immigration status in order to properly advise you of the potential consequences.
Examples of How Crimes Can Have Immigration Consequences
As we stated before, a criminal conviction can have lasting consequences in both criminal courts and in immigration court. Criminal convictions could, for example, make you permanently ineligible for a green card or even a work permit. For immigrants who already live and work in the country, a criminal charge could even result in deportation proceedings. Below, we outline how certain criminal records could affect your immigration benefits or status.
Crimes involving a controlled substance can also have serious consequences for non-citizens. Even simple possession charges carry the risk of deportation or inadmissibility. More serious drug crimes could even be classified as aggravated felonies or CIMTs. Aside from deportation, controlled substance offenses also carry the following potential penalties.
- Mandatory prison sentences
- A loss of asylum status
- Becoming ineligible for LPR status
- Bans on citizenship that span years
Aggravated felonies are of particular importance in criminal immigration cases. They are defined and outlined by Congress in U.S. immigration laws. When the term was originally coined in 1988, it referred to a relatively small list of serious crimes. These crimes were murder, drug trafficking, and firearms/destructive devices trafficking. Since then, the list has greatly expanded, covering over thirty serious and minor offenses. Below, we include the full list of aggravated felonies as outlined by U.S. immigration laws.
- Rape or sexual assault
- Sexual abuse of a minor (including statutory rape)
- Drug trafficking
- Simple battery
- Firearms or destructive devices trafficking
- Money laundering more than $10,000
- Tax evasion or fraud of more than $10,000
- Perjury with a one-year sentence
- Theft crimes with a one-year sentence
- Child pornography
- Prostitution or sex trafficking
- Bribery, counterfeiting, forgery, or vehicle trafficking
- Failing to show up to court for a felony charge that could have had a two-year prison sentence
- Treason, spying, and sabotage
- Violent crimes with sentences of one year or more
- Obstruction of justice
- Alien smuggling
Notably, Congress has not removed any crimes from its list of aggravated felonies. Rather, they have added a significant number of crimes that range in severity. Below, we list the potential consequences for a non-citizen convicted of an aggravated felony.
- They cannot enter the United States without first receiving a pardon or parole.
- If removal proceedings begin against the individual, cancellation of removal is not possible unless the Attorney General provides their express consent.
- A convicted non-citizen cannot apply for or receive asylum. However, this rule has specific exceptions for those seeking asylum due to a reasonable fear or credible fear of persecution.
- The non-citizen cannot receive Lawful Permanent Resident status.
Because many violent crimes are also considered aggravated felonies or CIMTs, this means that a charge alone can greatly affect your immigration status. Convictions can result in deportation or even a bar on reentry. Examples of these crimes include assault, battery, and sexual violence of any kind.
Crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT) are another category of offenses that specifically have immigration consequences, much like aggravated felonies. According to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, “a crime of moral turpitude has been vaguely defined as a depraved or immoral act, or a violation of the basic duties owed to fellow man.” While no concrete list of these crimes exists, some examples of what could classify as CIMT include murder, rape, arson, and sexual abuse. Those convicted of CIMTs could face the following consequences.
- Deportation after two or more CIMT convictions
- Deportation after one CIMT conviction (with a sentence greater than 1 year) within 5 years of entering the United States
Offenses involving firearms can have very serious consequences. Buying, selling, or trading illegal guns could result in deportation or inadmissibility. Unlawful possession convictions also have the same potential effects.
Again, many of the crimes in these categories also fall into the categories of CIMTs and aggravated felonies. Because of this, those convicted could face removal proceedings and even a bar on admissibility to the United States.
Maybe you weren’t charged with one single deportable crime. Instead, maybe you’ve been charged with multiple lesser crimes, such as petty theft. Even a long sentence can bar you from achieving LPR status. Below, we break down the specifics of how multiple convictions or long prison sentences can affect convicted immigrants.
If you are convicted of multiple crimes with prison sentences totaling 5 years or more, this could bar you from achieving citizenship for as long as 5 years. Two gambling-related offenses also trigger the 5-year ban. Even serving jail time for longer than 180 days triggers this 5-year ban. It’s important to note that your jail time or prison sentences don’t have to happen all at once.
You could serve 90 days one year, then 90 days the next year for a separate offense. Since your total time served in jail totals 180 days, this would bar you from obtaining citizenship for 5 years. This principle also applies to the other examples we listed above.
Just as the Arizona penal code outlines the consequences for dangerous crimes against children, crimes against children also have immigration consequences. These include certain crimes against minors that are under 18 years old. If convicted, an immigrant could face deportation or other significant consequences.
What Is Some Advice for Someone Who Needs an Immigration and Criminal Lawyer?
If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, do not leave the country before consulting with an experienced criminal and immigration lawyer. Upon re-entry into the country, you could be subject to the grounds of inadmissibility and taken to an immigration detention center instead of being let into the country to return home. Likewise, if you have already pled guilty, you should not leave the country before knowing the potential immigration consequences.
If you are currently facing criminal charges, you should ask your attorney for a letter explaining the immigration consequences of your charges. If you are asked to take a certain plea offer, you should ask for a written explanation of the potential immigration consequences of your plea.
DO NOT SIGN A PLEA AGREEMENT WITHOUT KNOWING THE POTENTIAL IMMIGRATION CONSEQUENCES.
Should I Hire a Criminal and Immigration Attorney?
If you are not a United States Citizen (i.e., a Legal Permanent Resident, DACA recipient, Student Visa, J-1 Visa holder, No Status), you want to be assured your criminal case will not have negative immigration consequences. There are certain accusations that do not have immigration consequences, while other offenses that seem benign could result in severe immigration consequences. Anyone who is not a United States citizen should at minimum consult with an experienced immigration attorney to understand the potential consequences.
The benefit of hiring an experienced criminal and immigration attorney is that they can work your case from the beginning to not only get the best result possible on the criminal case but also to explore every possibility of keeping you in the country.
Why Should I Hire YMLG as My Criminal and Immigration Attorneys?
Since our inception, we have focused on handling criminal cases for undocumented families in Arizona. Our lead Attorney Ray Ybarra Maldonado has given CLE presentations to attorney groups about the immigration consequences of criminal offenses. He has even successfully argued in front of the Arizona Supreme Court on the issue. See “State Supreme Court Gives Deported Man Second Chance at Trial.”
The Ybarra Maldonado Law Group is in a unique position to serve our community, given that we have attained not guilty verdicts following federal and state jury trials while at the same time aggressively fighting to keep noncitizens in the country.
Contact an Immigration Criminal Lawyer in Phoenix, AZ
If you are an immigrant facing serious criminal charges, we highly recommend that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Ybarra Maldonado Law Group is uniquely experienced in criminal law, immigration law, and the intersection of the two. Many other law offices will have experience in one or the other, or maybe both separately, but rarely in cases that involve both at the same time. Our criminal defense and immigration lawyers can discuss defense strategies for your criminal case, as well as advise you on the potential immigration consequences you could face. To schedule an appointment and obtain legal advice from a top Phoenix attorney, please call our office at 602-910-4040 today.