The Possible Effects of a Hit and Run Conviction on Your Immigration Status
There are a wide range of immigration programs and how criminal law interacts with them can be complex. Depending on the circumstances just being arrested may have a negative impact, so consult with an attorney before discussing anything with, or filling out any forms for, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Consult an experienced hit and run lawyer because you could possibly avoid a conviction by working out a civil compromise. That would take care of any damages to the other party in the accident, hopefully avoiding criminal charges.Immigrations Status and Types of Crimes
A conviction, even one that's discharged and your record sealed after serving your sentence, could be a problem, depending on the nature of the crime. Even if your official record lacks a conviction, it would still count by ICE. A conviction for ICE is any situation where you admit guilt, or the facts warranted a finding of guilt, or you plead no contest (you don't admit to guilt but state there's enough evidence to convict you) and a judge orders some form of punishment, penalty or restraint.
Under federal law convictions for crimes deemed "aggravated felonies" (felonies are crimes where punishment can be more than a year) are permanent bars to naturalization. Under immigration law some misdemeanors (punishment can be up to a year in prison) are also considered aggravated felonies (such as drug trafficking and crimes involving theft).
A crime that's not an aggravated felony may prevent you from becoming a naturalized citizen. Some crimes prevent you from naturalizing for up to five years before your application for naturalization. This is the case because the law requires an applicant to show five years of good moral character in order to naturalize, three years if you qualify under special rules concerning certain spouses of U.S. citizens.
The crimes causing a temporary-bar include,
- Those involving "moral turpitude,"
- Two or more gambling offenses,
- A drug offense,
- Two or more nonpolitical offenses for which the sentence was five years in prison or more, and,
- Any crime for which you were confined to prison for more than 180 days.
If the crime is in this group (including hit and run), but is not an aggravated felony, you can naturalize five (or three) years after having committed the crime.
A "crime involving moral turpitude" is one showing the person has a depraved character, such as fraud or dishonesty. This could be interpreted as a hit and run where someone involved was injured or killed, the driver was aware of this but didn't stop to help or leave information (which could be a felony under California law).
Adding to the complexity of this issue is even if you were convicted of a crime within the last five years you could face possible deportation. You may have a number of valid defenses and if this is a concern to you consult with an immigration attorney for advice.An Aggressive Defense That Gets Results
There are many moving parts when criminal and immigration laws come together so it's critical that if you've an immigrant involved in a hit and run accident you seek legal counsel. At Hoffman & Associates, we sincerely care about our clients and will go the extra mile to achieve the best results possible in every case. Our lawyers regularly appear in courts throughout California, including the Los Angeles and San Diego areas. Contact us today and put our courtroom expertise to work for you.