Immigration Consequences of Crime

For defendants who are not citizens of the United States, criminal proceedings can lead to a variety of negative immigration consequences. The consequences depend on the defendant’s immigration status and the type of crime. Depending on the circumstances, non-U.S. citizens can be removed (deported), denied re-entry into the United States if they ever leave, be detained by DHS, be denied naturalization, and more.

What is a conviction?

Most of the time, there needs to be a conviction before the person can be “removed” (deported) from the United States. The meaning of the word “conviction” in the context of immigration comes from federal law. Federal law defines “conviction” to include: a judgment of guilt in a court and cases in which judgment of guilt is withheld but: a judge or jury finds the alien defendant guilty; the alien defendant pleads guilty, no contest, or admits to sufficient facts; or the judge imposes some type of punishment. Additionally, a Massachusetts continuance without a finding is considered a conviction for immigration purposes.

What if I’ve already pleaded to a criminal charge in Massachusetts and I wasn’t advised about the immigration consequences?

If this is the case, you are entitled to a new trial under Massachusetts law. Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 278 Section 29D, a court cannot accept a plea from a defendant without warning him/her that if he/she isn’t a United States citizen, there can be immigration consequences.

What if the prosecutor promised that I wouldn’t be subject to immigration consequences and didn’t fulfill that promise?

You could also be entitled to a new trial if this is the case. A plea agreement is like a contract, and the government must abide by the terms of plea agreements. If the prosecutor promised you that there would be no immigration consequences and you relied on that to your detriment, a new trial will be in order.

Call a Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Now 617-512-0939

If you have been charged with a crime and you are concerned about the immigration consequences, call Francis T. O’Brien Jr. of O'Brien Law Boston at 617-512-0939. Attorney O’Brien will analyze the possible consequences and get you the best results possible.