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What is an aggravated felony?

Unfortunately for those who immigrated to the United States, the law is not quite the same in how it doles out punishment or leniency as it is with fully-fledged citizens. In fact, the law carries an entirely separate category of offenses that can be leveled at immigrants. If you are an immigrant, or if you have a loved one who is an immigrant, it is always wise to educate yourself as much as possible about the law and have a plan in place for what steps to take if you find yourself on the wrong side of it.

If you are an immigrant, no matter what your status is, you absolutely do not want to be convicted of a crime. You may face deportation or a downgrading of your status, even for non-felony convictions. Unfortunately for immigrants of any status, what is considered a felony is a significantly broader category than for citizens. Aggravated felonies are a broad category of offenses that can have devastating consequences, even though it is a much lower standard.

Aggravated felonies include many offenses that are not traditionally considered felonies, or even misdemeanors or criminal offenses at all, depending on the situation. This can include things like filing a fraudulent tax return, failure to appear in court or something like consensual sex between a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old. To make matters even more potentially dire, Congress has regularly added offenses to this category, and an individual who has already been convicted of the newly added offense becomes immediately deportable.

As you can see, there are many ways that being an immigrant in the United States can be an exceptionally difficult burden to bear, compared to the burden of citizens. If you are an immigrant yourself, or if you have loved ones who are immigrants, it is wise to have a plan in place for how to proceed if the unthinkable happens. A qualified criminal defense lawyer will know the ins and outs of your state's immigration system, and be committed to treating you as a person with inalienable rights that deserve protecting.

Source: Findlaw.com, "How does a felony affect deportation," accessed Oct. 11, 2016

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