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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Domestic Violence Charges May Impact Your Immigration Status

Domestic Violence Charges May Impact Your Immigration Status


Domestic violence is seen as a serious crime in Florida, and a conviction will result in serious penalties. However, for people who are not citizens of the United States, it is crucial to understand that a conviction for this type of crime can have consequences even beyond jail time – namely, that you will likely be found removable (‘deportable’) under federal immigration law. If you have been charged with domestic violence, it is imperative that you seek out an attorney who will be sensitive to your unique needs.

Criminal Law Is Different From Immigration Law

There is no one specific crime of domestic violence under Florida law; rather, the definition describes any criminal offense that results in “physical injury or death” to a “family or household member” of the perpetrator’s. If you are convicted of this type of crime, the presence of domestic violence will generally be used as an augmenting factor – for example, the offense of assault may become aggravated assault in that situation.

A domestic violence conviction will subject a non-citizen to “optional” removal – but in this day and age, very few people with removal orders are permitted to remain in the United States. In addition, if the domestic violence crime qualifies as a ‘crime of moral turpitude (COMT)’ – essentially, as a crime that establishes poor moral character – that ‘optional’ removal becomes mandatory. Crimes of moral turpitude may be misdemeanors or felonies.

Ambiguity Leads To Removal

Perhaps the most important thing to be aware of during this time is that the U.S. immigration law system and the U.S. justice system operate on completely different standards. An offense that qualifies as a misdemeanor under criminal law, such as simple assault, may be classified as a COMT or “aggravated felony” under immigration law (even though it is not a felony in Florida’s Criminal Code!). In some cases, this kind of misdemeanor offense may wind up rendering someone removable from the United States.

This ambiguity leads to many non-citizens accidentally rendering themselves removable – or their attorneys accidentally doing so by accepting a plea-bargain. Even if one is not convicted of a crime – for example, if your case is placed on the nolle prosse docket, or obtaining deferred adjudication – immigration authorities may conclude that your being in such a situation is proof of your lack of character, which can render you deportable. If you have been charged with an offense, it is crucial to enlist an attorney who knows not to plea-bargain or take alternative punishments, but to push for innocence.

Call A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

If you have been charged with a crime of domestic violence, and are not a citizen of the United States, you need an attorney who understands just how high the stakes are in your case. A West Palm Beach criminal attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can advise you about the best path to pursue for you and your loved ones. Contact us today at (561) 721-0552 to speak to an attorney.



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