Immigration has become more of a hot topic than ever recently. High profile cases like the murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco by illegal immigrant Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez just a few years ago have kept this debate in the spotlight. While the discussion of immigration can be a volatile one with emotionally-charged opinions on either side, the law clearly shows how immigration cases are handled differently than crimes committed by US citizens.
Immigrants and Crime – When is Deportation an Option?
When US citizens commit crimes and are convicted, jail time is typically the consequence. However, when illegal immigrants are convicted of crimes, they may be subjected to deportation in certain cases. Whether or not this is a possibility depends on the type of crime, the immigration status of the defendant, and other factors. Discover some of the most common crimes which can result in deportation for an illegal offender.
Moral Turpitude – A Major Criteria for Deportation
While the crimes that can result in an offender being deported to their home country can range from violent crimes to drug crimes, there is one factor that is often required for deportation. That factor is moral turpitude, a legal term that is applied to crimes that are considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty, or good morals. See which crimes are associated with moral turpitude and how they can result in illegal offenders being removed from the country.
Which Crimes are Associated with Moral Turpitude
Essentially, the crimes showing the offender acting evilly and selfishly without regard for their fellow men are the crimes that denote moral turpitude. While there is an element of subjectivity to this – the judge determines what constitutes moral turpitude on a specific level – certain crimes are generally considered crimes of moral turpitude. While deportation may not be guaranteed for any crime, illegal citizens who commit crimes like these may be deported:
- Voluntary Manslaughter
- Involuntary Manslaughter, In Some Cases
- Spousal Abuse
- Child Abuse
- Aggravated Assault
- Animal Fighting
- Fraud, and conspiracy, attempt, or acting as an accessory to a crime if that crime involved moral turpitude.
Other Factors that Affect Deportation
Although moral turpitude is a major consideration when assessing the punishment for drug crimes, it’s never certain whether it will end in a deportation verdict. There are other variables that affect whether an illegal immigrant’s crime will result in deportation, including:
Depending on how long an immigrant has been in the country, deportation may be more or less likely. Each of the immigration statuses has their own specific criteria that apply to them. These are examples of various types of immigrants, each with their own rules and laws:
- Legal Permanent Resident
- Refugee (without LPR status)
- Asylee (without LPR status)
- Non-Citizen with Temporary Lawful Status
- Non-Citizen without Legal Status
The State in Which the Crime Occurs
State law is another factor that weighs heavily on whether a defendant gets deported for their crime. States have drastically differing laws on immigration and can approach the issue of deportation from virtually opposite viewpoints. For example, California is a state that is lax on illegal immigrants compared to Texas, which is much more strict. Reading about the state law where the crime occurred may provide a better perspective on whether deportation is a possibility.
The Judge’s Decision
Even with all other factors rendering a defendant eligible for deportation, it still falls on the judge to make the final decision. The judge may consider whether it’s the defendant’s first offense, how long they’ve been in the country, and whether they have a family to support. Ultimately, the judge will scrutinize many factors before determining whether deportation is the optimal consequence of a defendant’s crime.
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