Law Office of Ronald A. Cabanayan
Law Office ofRonald A. Cabanayan

DUI ~ Criminal Defense ~ Immigration/Naturalization

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Your green card and a felony

If you are currently in the United States as a permanent resident, you understand that there are limitations to your status. While you have many rights and privileges, such as seeking employment and owning property, you do not have immunity from deportation if you fail to abide by the laws of California and the federal government.

Of course, it is best to avoid any criminal activity, whether you have a visa, green card or naturalization certificate. Certain offenses place your status at risk. Not only do you face the civil penalties if you are convicted for these crimes, but you may be at risk for immigration penalties as well.

Felony or misdemeanor?

You may be aware of the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. Misdemeanor convictions are minor offenses that typically result less than a year of jail time and frequently involve alternatives to jail, such as fines, probation, community service or counseling.

Felonies are much more serious. Felony crimes carry penalties that can span from several years to the rest of your life in prison. For U.S. citizens, felony examples include many acts that inflict injury on others, including murder, rape and arson, but can also include grand larceny and drug trafficking. However, since you are a green card holder, a third category of offenses exists for you and others who immigrate to the U.S.

What is an aggravated felony?

Congress created a special group of offenses that pertains only to those in the U.S. on visas or green cards. These aggravated felonies include some offenses that are only misdemeanors for U.S. citizens, such as:

  • Shoplifting
  • Failing to appear for a court hearing
  • Simple assault
  • Tax return fraud

The list, which Congress compiled and frequently amends, includes crimes you would expect, such as murder and drug trafficking, but with the added consequence of a change in status to deportable. No longer will your green card protect you from removal if a court convicts you of an aggravated felony.

Moral standards

Other crimes that carry more dire consequences for those in the immigration system are crimes of moral turpitude. Crimes of moral turpitude are those behaviors that society deems offensive to moral standards. No specific list of these offenses exists, so it is often a subjective decision.

Your future in the U.S. is in question if you face charges of an aggravated felony or a crime of moral turpitude. You would greatly benefit from having an attorney with extensive experience assisting those in the immigration system who face criminal charges.

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Law Office ofRonald A. Cabanayan

31 N. 2nd Street
Suite 321
San Jose, CA 95113

Phone: 408-758-5673
Fax: 408-409-2547
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