CONSEQUENCES OF CRIMINAL ACTIVITY
There are no harsher consequences in immigration, than those that derive from criminal activity. Even many misdemeanor crimes can have severe immigration consequences. Books have been written on the subject so it is very important to speak to an experienced immigration attorney if you are being accused of a crime to understand what all the immigration consequences can be due to your situation.
Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude:
Moral turpitude is a term that has mostly been defined in Immigration Court by case law. In general, if a crime manifests an “element of baseness or depravity under current societal mores” it involves moral turpitude. Thus, certain crimes such as murder, rape, blackmail, and fraud are considered crimes involving moral turpitude, whereas crimes such as simple assault have not been considered to involve moral turpitude.
INA Section 101(a)(43) defines “aggravated felony” through the listing of a number of criminal categories and specified crimes. The broadest categories of aggravated felonies under the INA are:
- Any crime of violence (including crimes involving a substantial risk of the use of physical force) for which the term of imprisonment is at least one year;
- Any crime of theft (including the receipt of stolen property) or
- Burglary for which the term of imprisonment is at least one year; and
- Illegal trafficking in drugs, firearms, or destructive devices.
Many specific crimes are also listed as aggravated felonies under the INA. These include:
- sexual abuse of a minor;
- illicit trafficking in a controlled substance, including a federal drug trafficking offense;
- illicit trafficking in a firearm, explosive, or destructive device;
- federal money laundering or engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specific unlawful activity, if the amount of the funds exceeded $10,000;
- any of various federal firearms or explosives offenses;
- any of various federal offenses relating to a demand for, or receipt of, ransom;
- any of various federal offenses relating to child pornography;
- a federal racketeering offense;
- a federal gambling offense (including the transmission of wagering information in commerce if the offense is a second or subsequent offense) which is punishable by imprisonment of at least a year;
- a federal offense relating to the prostitution business;
- a federal offense relating to peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude, or trafficking in persons;
- any of various offenses relating to espionage, protecting undercover agents, classified information, sabotage, or treason;
- fraud, deceit, or federal tax evasion, if the offense involves more than $10,000;
- alien smuggling, other than a first offense involving the alien’s spouse, child, or parent;
- illegal entry or reentry of an alien previously deported on account of committing an aggravated felony;
- an offense relating to falsely making, forging, counterfeiting, mutilating, or altering a passport or immigration document if the term of imprisonment is at least a year and (2) the offense is not a first offense relating to the alien’s spouse, parent, or child;
- failure to appear for service of a sentence, if the underlying offense is punishable by imprisonment of at least five years;
- an offense relating to commercial bribery, counterfeiting, forgery, or trafficking in vehicles with altered identification numbers, for which the term of imprisonment is at least one year;
- an offense relating to obstruction of justice, perjury or subornation of perjury, or bribery of a witness, for which the term of imprisonment is at least one year;
- an offense relating to a failure to appear before a court pursuant to a court order to answer to or dispose of a charge of a felony for which a sentence of two years’ imprisonment or more may be imposed; and
- an attempt or conspiracy to commit one of the foregoing offenses.
Note: Unless otherwise specified, an aggravated felony includes both state and federal convictions, as well as foreign convictions for which the term of imprisonment was completed less than 15 years earlier.