Domestic Violence Convictions and Immigration Law

A non-U.S. citizen facing the possible conviction of a domestic-related criminal charge needs to consider the fact that domestic violence convictions can trigger the start of “removal” or deportation proceedings. In removal proceedings, the U.S. government argues that a non-citizen needs to be ordered to leave the U.S. This can happen even if you are a lawful permanent resident or have a “green card.”

detainee

What is considered by the U.S. government a conviction for domestic violence?

  1. A “crime of violence” charged against a person:
    1. where the victim is a current or former spouse,
    2. where victim and accused share a child in common,
    3. where the accused and the victim were cohabitated or cohabitated as spouses,
    4. where the victim is similarly situated to a spouse,
    5. Under family violence laws of the jurisdiction where the offense occurs, or
    6. or any other person who is protected under domestic or family violence laws of the U.S. or any State, Indian tribal government, or unit of local government.
  2. Violation of a protective order (including temporary or final orders)
  3. Crime of stalking;
  4. Crime of Child abuse, neglect or abandonment

A “crime of violence” is one in which the crime involves the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against a person or property. The second type of “crime of violence” is a felony that by its nature involves the risk of physical force.

For purposes of immigration law, it does not matter if your conviction was only a misdemeanor or that that you received a particular minimum sentence. The definition of what is a conviction for immigration law is different than what is a conviction for criminal purposes. It does matter if your conviction is from before September 30, 1996 because that it was when the law changed.

There are certain defenses in immigration court if you have been convicted of a domestic violence related charge and there are certain pleas that can mitigate any damage done to your immigration status.