Criminal Defense

Walker-Gates Vela explains how to handle the deportation and detainment process.

Deportation may mean leaving your friends and family in the U.S. behind, losing your job and steady income, returning to a war-torn nation, or going back to a life of poverty and strife. Deportation could mean losing everything you have worked hard to achieve in the United States, and being unable to return legally for decades.

Criminal Defense for Immigrants

When immigrants in the United States are arrested on criminal charges, they face serious penalties and punishments just like any U.S. citizen. The difference is that U.S. citizens don’t have to fear being sent away from their friends and family for the rest of their lives. Immigrants who are convicted of certain crimes may have their immigration status revoked and may be banished from the United States for many years. If your loved one has been detained by immigration, he or she is at risk of being deported.

How Is Deportation Related To My Criminal Arrest?

If you’re not a U.S. citizen, a criminal conviction may mean your deportation or removal from the country. That is, the federal government can send you back to your native country and bar you from re-entering the U.S.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforces the federal laws surrounding deportation. You can be deported even if you hold a visa or lawful permanent residency (a green card).

Deportation laws and criminal charges

You can face deportation if you are convicted of many different types of crimes, including:

  • Crimes of moral turpitude — These serious crimes include rape, murder, and arson. Persons convicted of crimes of moral turpitude may be deported if they were convicted within five years after being admitted to the U.S. (or 10 years if they have a green card) and were sentenced to a year or more in prison.
  • Aggravated felonies — If convicted of an aggravated felony such as rape, murder, trafficking, or firearms charges, you may be deported regardless of how long you have been in the United States.
  • Drug-and-gun-related charges — You could be deported for selling, possessing, distributing, or trafficking firearms and controlled substances, depending on the amount in question.
  • Terrorism or treason — You may be forced to leave the country if convicted of a crime against the United States such as terrorism, espionage, or treason.
  • Domestic violence — If you were accused of committing a crime against your spouse, former spouse, parent of your child, or any person you live with, you may have to return to your native country.
  • Other convictions — Additional crimes that could warrant deportation include “high speed flight” from an immigration checkpoint, failure to register as a sex offender, violating a protective order, DUI, and more.

Was Your Loved One Detained By Immigration?

If you or someone you love has been detained by ICE, you can check the ICE website to learn where he or she is being held, or you can call your local ICE office. In some cases, a person has been arrested by the local police and then taken into ICE custody.

Depending on their charges, you may be able to secure an immigration bond. Once you post bond on his or her behalf, your loved one may be released into your care or on their own recognizance. Then, you should seek the assistance of a dedicated advocate to formulate a defense against deportation.

Unfortunately, mandatory detention is required for persons accused of certain crimes, and obtaining a bond is unlikely. Release from ICE Custody may only occur after a sentence has been completed or the case against the detainee is dismissed.

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Austin, TX 78752