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A U.S. citizen charged and convicted of a domestic violence-related offense likely faces jail time, a criminal record, loss of gun ownership rights, protective from abuse order and other lingering consequences. However, a noncitizen, including lawful permanent residents, visa holders, and undocumented immigrants, who are charged and convicted of domestic violence offenses face even more serious repercussions. Domestic violence offenses (felony and misdemeanor) are designated as removable offenses – meaning any noncitizen can be deported if convicted.
If you have been convicted of a domestic violence-related offense, you will face removal proceedings. This can come about in a number of ways, such as renewing a visa or green card, being picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) agents, or having an immigration detainer placed on your criminal case while you are in jail.
If you are currently facing domestic violence related charges, you will want to avoid a conviction whenever possible. Due to the severe immigration consequences, it is important to obtain an attorney who understands the deportation consequences of any specific charge. At the Skinner Law Firm, we are both immigration and criminal defense attorneys who can assist you. Our West Chester lawyers represent clients in both Pennsylvania and Immigration Courts throughout the region.
At the Skinner Law Firm, we represent people on both criminal and immigration matters throughout the Philadelphia and the suburban areas, including Berks, Bucks, Chester, Lancaster, Montgomery, and York Counties. We represent clients throughout the tristate area before the Immigration Courts in Philadelphia, York and beyond. Call us today at (610) 436-1410 to schedule a consultation.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a domestic violence related conviction includes a broad number of offenses. Included crimes of domestic violence are stalking, child abuse, child neglect, and child abandonment. The term “crime of domestic violence” means any crime of violence against a person committed by:
For purposes of domestic violence laws in Pennsylvania, family or household members include not only the same individuals as above, but also people related by blood or marriage (including parents and children), current or former sexual or intimate partners, or people with the same biological parents. A broad number of circumstances can arise which would make someone deportable for a domestic violence related conviction in Pennsylvania.
Even violations of protective orders carry immigration consequences. In Pennsylvania, a family or household member can obtain a Protection from Abuse (“PFA”) against a noncitizen based upon actual or attempted physical or emotional abuse, sexual assault, threats or other behavior meant to put someone in reasonable fear. A violation of a temporary or final PFA is a deportable offense.
If you are a noncitizen facing any Pennsylvania charge that could meet the above criteria, you should protect your rights and seek the help of a criminal defense and immigration lawyer. With the assistance of a skilled dual criminal and immigration lawyer, you can possibly avoid a deportable conviction and protect your future in the United States.
If convicted of a domestic violence offense, you will likely receive a Notice to Appear (“NTA”) before an Immigration Court. This is how removal proceedings begin. If you ultimately removed, you will be required to leave the country and return to your home country, where you may have few or no connections. Once you are removed, it is difficult to gain permission to re-enter the United States.
A person in removal proceedings has the right to be represented in Immigration Court by an attorney. Your attorney can argue why you should be allowed to remain in the United States. Under some circumstances, voluntary departure is the best option. Voluntary departure is when you leave on your own terms within a certain time period.
If you are seeking a visa to come to Pennsylvania or the Philadelphia area, or you are seeking to renew a visa, a domestic violence conviction may keep you from being able to do so. In order to obtain or renew a visa, you must be what is called “admissible.” In cases involving domestic violence, your conviction must not fall into an inadmissible class.
Unlike removal proceedings, a domestic violence offense is not specifically listed as a crime that would make a person inadmissible to obtain or renew a visa. However, people who have been convicted of a “crime involving moral turpitude” are ineligible – and therefore inadmissible – for a visa. While the definition of “crime of moral turpitude” is complex and wide-ranging, certain domestic violence convictions will fall under this description.
If you have a domestic violence conviction on your record, it is very important that you discuss your visa application with a skilled attorney before submitting it. Your lawyer can talk about your options, including any possible waivers of deportability and inadmissibility available.
If you are facing domestic violence charges as a noncitizen, a skilled lawyer can help fight the charges and help you remain in the United States. If you have been convicted of a domestic violence-related offense and are now facing removal, a lawyer can assist you in securing the best options. At the Skinner Law Firm, we handle both criminal and immigration matters for clients. Call us today at (610) 436-1410 to schedule a consultation.