What should I do if I’m accused of a crime? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States in our offices in St. Louis, Missouri, San Diego, California, and Washington, DC. We’ve had a lot of people asking us lately about a little criminal charge, or at least they think it’s a little criminal charge and they are not yet a US citizen. And they’re wondering, what should they do? Well, what they need to do is they need to have an immigration lawyer consult with their criminal defense lawyer, and then advocate with the prosecutors to try to get a plea agreement that allows the individual to obtain the next immigration benefit that they are hoping for. So we always have that hierarchy of immigration status. So obviously if you’re a US citizen and you plead guilty to committing a crime, you can’t be deported for most instances. It would only be if it was some kind of crime and it happened before you got your citizenship.
But if you’re a citizen for the most part, it’s very hard to undo that and to take away your citizenship and then to deport you for crime. But for green card holders, for people on non-immigrant visas, they have different immigration statuses and they have different protections under the law. So there’s nothing more complicated than the intersection of criminal and immigration law. We call that “crimigration” and you could run an entire law practice just on researching and working on the issues related to crime and immigrants. And the reason for that is that we have 50 states. We have 50 state legislatures. We have a set of laws created in all 50 states, and there are even municipal and smaller jurisdictions that have their own criminal codes. So all this stuff makes it very complicated when an immigrant commits a crime.
So instead of asking about, well, what about this crime? Or what about that crime? I got charged with shoplifting, or I have a DUI or something more serious. Like, I don’t know, a domestic violence charge or a child abuse charge or an embezzlement charge. When we are confronted with a immigrant who is charged with a crime, this is probably the most important work that we do. This is also the most complex work that we do. And the reason for that is for what I mentioned before, that there’s all these jurisdictions that write their statutes a little bit differently from each other and from the federal definitions of those crimes. So whenever you have a situation like that, where you have the federal definition of a deportable offense and a state, let’s say, the state of Connecticut’s definition of child abuse, do those match and does a state court conviction mean that someone’s going to be deported or have their visa revoked or not be able to apply for citizenship?
So when it comes to immigration and crimes, you need to be thinking what’s the next immigration benefit that I want? Is this crime going to affect that? What’s the immigration status that I currently have? Is this crime going to perhaps mean that that benefit or that status that I have get taken away? So those are sort of the two big things. And then of course, if you’re overseas, can I get a visa? Am I admissible to the United States because of this prior crime?
So I say all this, because it’s just too much work for us to just hop on the Immigrant Home Facebook group or other places where people contact us and just sort of throw out an analysis quickly of whether or not a crime is going to make you deportable or not eligible for the next immigration benefit. And instead, what needs to happen is we have to be hired. And what we do is we research the state law. We research the federal law. We look at the immigration case law to see if it’s going to render you deportable. And then we put it all together in a memo for you, so that you make a good decision before pleading guilty or going to trial on any criminal charges.
So it’s very interesting aspect of the law, very complex and complicated. And I don’t say this because we liked doing that research. And frankly, it takes us off our game to be doing a lot of that research because we could do a lot of citizenship cases or green card cases in the time that it takes us to do that research, but we sort of do it as a service. And because it’s in line with our first two core values here at the Hacking Law Practice, which are we fight for immigrants every day and we do what’s in the best interest of the client.
So if we can help you sort out your criminal matter, hopefully we can put you on the path of success to keep your immigration benefit that you have, and hopefully get the next benefit that you want. If you have questions about this, give us a call, 314-961-8200. Email us at [email protected] Be sure to join us on our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. If you like this video, we ask that you please share it out on social and subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever we make videos, just like this one. Thanks a lot and have a great day.