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Immigration Consequences of a Conviction

A criminal arrest, charge or conviction can have a serious impact on anyone’s life for an extended period. Non-citizens, unfortunately, must worry about the consequences to their immigration status in conjunction with the statutory penalties for their crime. A non-citizen could face mandatory detention, ineligibility for naturalization, face intense restrictions on readmission into the United States or be deported entirely.

If you or someone you know has been arrested as a non-citizen for a crime, it’s within your best interest to gain legal representation right away. It’s important to note that as a result of the United States Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Padilla v Commonwealth of Kentucky, lawyers can no longer refrain from discussing the immigration consequences of a conviction when they are representing non-citizens of the United States.

Having an attorney with extensive background in immigration cases and law will give you the edge you need to avoid the immigration consequences of your charges. Don’t wait another moment and contact an experienced defense attorney today.

Immigration Attorney Explains Consequences of a Conviction in West Palm Beach, FL

Are you an immigrant to the United States who is now facing criminal charges in South Florida? Meltzer & Bell, P.A. can provide you with a full understanding of the nature of your alleged offense and fight to achieve the most favorable outcome. We handle a wide variety of criminal cases, although we do not represent people in specific immigration matters.

Our Palm Beach County immigrant defense attorneys represent clients in Delray Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington, Riviera Beach, and Greenacres as well as several surrounding areas. Call (561) 557-8686 right now to have our firm review your case during a free, confidential consultation.

Overview of Immigration Consequences of a Conviction in FL


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What’s the Difference Between Inadmissibility and Deportation?

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) establishes the procedures that are used to determine whether an immigrant can be removed from the United States. The procedures vary, depending on the specific circumstances of the immigrant’s legal status. Generally, most immigrants are entitled to formal proceedings before immigration judges, but some immigrants are not entitled to such hearings and can be ordered to be removed from the country.

There are essentially two types of possible actions:

Deportability —This is the power of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to remove legally admitted immigrants from the United States. Examples of these types of immigrants include nonimmigrants, who are people admitted to the United States for specific periods of time with certain conditions on their stays, and Lawful Permanent Residents (also known as LPRs, Permanent Resident Aliens, Resident Alien Permit Holders, or Green Card Holders), who are people residing the in the United States under legally recognized and lawfully recorded permanent residence but are not technically citizens of the United States.

Inadmissibility — This is the power of USCIS to prevent immigrants not legally admitted to the United States from entering the United States. It generally applies to immigrants UCIS refers to as aliens, or people who are not citizens or nationals of the United States.


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Criminal Convictions That Are Grounds for Inadmissibility in the US

Whether the crime was committed within the United States or abroad, a criminal charge can have a serious impact on your immigration status if you are a non-citizen. Certain criminal convictions can be considered basis for your and exclusion for re-entry as the conviction “proved” you were a “danger” to the country.

Conviction for any of the following crimes can be grounds for prohibition of re-entry into the United States for a non-citizen.

  • Possessing, manufacturing or selling controlled substances;
  • Two or more prior convictions regardless of whether the conviction was in a single trial or whether they arose from a single scheme of misconduct;
  • Drug trafficking or is a knowing aider, abettor, assister, conspirator or colluder with others in a drug trafficking scheme;
  • Any spouse, son or daughter of a non-citizen who is considered inadmissible and obtained a financial or other benefit from drug trafficking by the non-citizen within the last five years;
  • Engage in prostitution or has engaged in prostitution within 10 years of the date of application for a visa, admission or adjustment of status;
  • Directly or indirectly procuring or attempting to procure prostitutes;
  • Any other unlawful commercialized prostitution-related offense;
  • Non-citizens who committed a crime and were granted immunity, but were ordered to return to the US;
  • Foreign government officials who committed particularly severe violations of religious freedom defined in Section 6402 of the U.S. Code
  • Human trafficking;
  • Non-citizens where the Attorney General has reasonable ground to believe is seeking re-entry or stay in the United States so they can violate laws to espionage or sabotage or violate the export of U.S. goods, technology, or sensitive information
  • Non-citizens where the Attorney General has reasonable ground to believe they are seeking re-entry or stay in the U.S. so they can take control or overthrow the U.S government by force, violence or unlawful means;
  • Money laundering; or
  • Engaging in terrorist activities

The term “terrorist activity” refers to any activity that is considered unlawful in the U.S. and which involves the following factors:

  • High jacking or sabotage of any conveyance;
  • Seizing, detaining, threatening to kill or continue to detain another individual in order to compel a third person (which can include a government organization) to do or abstain from doing any sort of act as an explicit or implicit condition of the victim’s release;
  • Violent attacks on an internationally protected person;
  • An assassination;
  • Or the use of any:
    • Biological agent, chemical agent or nuclear weapon; or
    • Firearm, explosive or other dangerous device other than for monetary gain

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What Crimes Could Get Your Deported in the United States?

In the United States, if a conviction for certain crimes can mean automatic deportation. It can be a bit confusing as these regulations apply both federally and on the state level, so it’s important you’re aware what crimes are grounds for deportation for both the state of Florida and the United States of America. Under the U.S. Code both “aggressive felonies” and “crimes involving moral turpitude” (CIMT) are grounds for deportation.

The Immigration and Nationality Act in the U.S. Code lists crimes which are considered to be “aggressive felonies.” A conviction for any of these crimes can be considered reasonable grounds for deportation.  These crimes include:

  • Murder, rape or sexual abuse of a minor;
  • Illicit trafficking in a controlled substance;
  • Illicit trafficking in firearms or destructive devices;
  • Money laundering;
  • Explosive materials and firearm offenses;
  • Crimes of violence where the imprisonment term is at least one year;
  • Theft offense where the imprisonment term is at least one year;
  • Demand for Receipt of Ransom;
  • Racketeering or gambling with an imprisonment term of at least one year;
  • Prostitution offenses;
  • Gathering or transmitting of classified information;
  • Fraud or deceit offenses or tax evasion of over $10,000;
  • Alien smuggling;
  • Illegal entry or reentry by removed aggravated felon;
  • Passport or document fraud with an imprisonment term of at least one year;
  • Vehicles;
  • Obstruction of justice, perjury, or bribery of witness;
  • Failure to appear in court where the offense is punishable by up to two years; and
  • Attempt or conspiracy to commit an aggravated felony

Other crimes that are grounds for deportation under the U.S. Code that aren’t defined as aggressive felonies include the following:

  • Drug crimes;
  • Weapons charges such as possessing, purchasing, selling or offering to sell any weapon, part or accessory of a firearm or destructive device;
  • Domestic violence;
  • Failure to register as a sex offender;
  • Violating a protective order;
  • High speed flight from an immigration checkpoint; and
  • Failure to register or falsification of documents

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What is a Crime of Moral Turpitude or CIMT in the United States?

The United States Code also establishes that conviction for crimes of moral turpitude can be a reason for automatic deportation. Unfortunately, the question of what constitutes a crime of moral turpitude for immigration purposes can be extremely complicated. This is because there is no comprehensive list of crimes of moral turpitude or specific guidelines to define a crime as one of moral turpitude.

There is no specific definition for “moral turpitude” under the U.S. Code. Opinions from the Board of Immigration Appeals have described it as a “nebulous concept” that “refers generally to conduct that shocks the public conscience as being inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the rules of morality and the duties owed between man and man, either one’s fellow man or society in general.” Essentially, if the judge or immigration official believes the crime is morally unjust, it may be considered a crime of moral turpitude.

Some examples of CMT crimes from individual cases include:

  • Murder;
  • Involuntary or voluntary manslaughter;
  • Incest;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Rape;
  • Spousal Abuse;
  • Robbery;
  • Aggravated assault;
  • Theft;
  • Fraud;
  • Child abuse; or
  • Animal fighting

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Immigration Consequences for a Criminal Conviction in the U.S.

Deportation and inadmissibility are not the only possible consequences of guilty pleas. Depending on the crime to which an immigrant pleads guilty, he or she could possibly face:

  • Restrictions on Readmission to the United States
  • Mandatory Detention
  • Ineligible for Naturalization
  • Prohibited from Seeking Judicial Review of Removal Orders
  • Subject to Summary Removal
  • Enhanced Penalties for Unlawful Reentry

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Additional Resources

Florida Immigrant Coalition | FLIC – Visit the official website for the Florida Immigrant Coalition to learn more about their alliance of 62 member organizations that represent immigrants working in Florida. Access the site for resources, coordination of immigration organization and other important information;.

United State Immigration Laws – Visit the official website for the U.S. Code to take a look at Chapter 8 Section 1182 regarding immigration consequences of a criminal conviction. Access the site to learn exceptions to the rule, grounds to take away your visa and more.


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Criminal Lawyer for Immigration Consequences in Palm Beach County

If you are not yet a legal citizen of the United States but were recently arrested for any kind of crime in South Florida, it is critical for you to have dedicated legal counsel. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents immigrants in such areas as Royal Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Jupiter, Boynton Beach, and Lake Worth.

Our West Palm Beach immigrant defense attorneys make themselves available 24 hours a day, seven days a week so we are constantly available to our clients. We can review your case during a free consultation when you call (561) 557-8686 today.


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