Most people know the United States government has jurisdiction over the immigration policy. They enforce the immigration laws and the states normally work in cooperation with the federal government.
This means when immigration laws are violated on a criminal level, then any prosecution will occur in a federal courtroom. However, many violations of federal immigration laws are not considered a criminal act.
Immigration crimes in California can cover a wide array of charges and proceedings, including:
- violations of immigration laws;
- convictions for crimes that merit deportations;
- convictions for crimes that render individuals inadmissible.
The federal government has put together legislature defining inadmissibility and deportability in the following sections:
- 8 U.S.C. § 1182 – inadmissible aliens,
- 8 U.S.C. § 1227 – deportable aliens.
The crimes that render non-citizens inadmissible or deportable prevent those individuals from re-entering the United States or cause their immediate removal from the United States, respectively.
For more information, our federal criminal defense attorneys are providing an overview below.
What defines ‘Inadmissibility' or ‘Deportability'?
If an individual merits deportability, that means that their actions are severe enough to send them back to their country of origin.
If an individual merits inadmissibility, that means:
- they will not be allowed to re-enter the United States once they have left;
- they cannot become a United States citizen; and
- they cannot apply for permanent residence in the country OR an adjustment of their immigration status.
Which Violations of Immigration Law Can Result in Removal Proceedings?
The first type of immigration crime that can result in deportation, or a declaration of inadmissibility is simple – a violation of immigration law.
Specific examples of this type of violation may include:
- illegally entering the country in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1325;
- entering the country in the wrong way, such as working with the incorrect visa;
- entering the country under a declaration of inadmissibility;
- committing fraud in order to enter the country, such as marriage fraud;
- helping another person violate immigration laws.
One of the most common types of immigration crimes marriage fraud. This occurs when a non-citizen comes to United States to engage into a fraudulent marriage to
evade immigration law and obtain a green card.
There are also sham marriages where people will get a legal marriage only to take advantage lenient treatment that is available to a spouse.
People who are suspects of marriage fraud are often investigated the federal government.
8 U.S.C. § 1325(c) states that anyone who engages in marriage fraud can be punished by up to 5 years in federal prison.
Violating immigration laws is not the only way to merit removal proceedings.
If a non-citizen receives a California criminal conviction for deportable or inadmissible activity, that person's immigration status could be in severe jeopardy. 18 U.S.C. § 1427 covers the sale of naturalization or citizenship papers.
Deportable Crimes under California Law
Crimes that merit deportation under California law include:
- crimes of moral turpitude: these involve crimes that include fraud, dishonesty, or harmful behavior. Some examples may include burglary, arson, kidnapping, grand theft, DUI, and forgery.
- aggravated felonies: these more serious crimes may include rape, sexual abuse of a minor, child pornography, kidnapping, murder, very costly instances of fraud, and crimes relating to prostitution.
- controlled substances offenses: selling or transporting controlled substances and even simple possession can result in deportation. Possession of a controlled substance while armed.
- firearms offenses: if the prosecution can show that you illegally possessed, carried, sold, exchanged, purchased a firearm, or attempted to conspire, you could merit deportation.
- domestic violence crimes: this category of deportable crimes includes domestic battery, child abuse, child neglect, stalking, and any violations of existing restraining orders.
Crimes that Lead to Inadmissibility
The list of crimes that could lead to deportability and inadmissibility are similar.
Crimes that render an individual inadmissible include crimes of moral turpitude, sex crimes, drug crimes, or multiple criminal convictions.
The main differences between crimes that lead to inadmissibility and deportability include:
- the necessity of a conviction: To deem a guilty party deportable, the prosecution requires a conviction. Inadmissibility is a potential outcome if the guilty party merely admits to the crime.
- the recurrence or severity of the crime: While deportability requires two convictions OR a conviction associated with heightened legal penalties, inadmissibility does not have similar stipulations.
Conduct-Based Grounds for Deportation or Inadmissibility
A formal crime conviction is not the only way for a court to declare a person inadmissible or deportable.
There are potential conduct-based grounds for this type of legal action. These types of conduct include:
For any of these types of conduct, you don't necessarily need to receive a formal conviction for related crimes.
If a court can demonstrate a reasonable belief that you have an involvement in the above types of conduct, the prosecution may use that information against you.
What Happens at a Removal Proceeding?
At a removal hearing, an immigration judge presides over an examination of the case against someone who has violated immigration law or has committed a deportable or inadmissible crime.
The hearing will include the following elements:
- an opportunity for your attorney to make your case;
- an examination of the evidence against you;
- an opportunity for your attorney to cross-examine any witnesses that the prosecution has against you.
Your choice of an attorney is the most important strategic step you can take to work towards a favorable outcome.
We have spent years aggressively representing those whose future rests on the outcome of an immigration crime case. We will work to build a strong case for your defense.
Eisner Gorin LLP is a nationally recognized criminal defense law firm serving people in Southern California and throughout the United States.
Our law firm is located at 1999 Avenue of the Stars, 11th Fl., Los Angeles, CA 90067. Our main office is located in the San Fernando Valley area at 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401.
Call our firm to discuss the details of your case at (877) 781-1570, or contact us online.