As a non-citizen, the stakes can be extremely high when you are facing criminal charges. This is particularly true if you are facing charges that may be considered an aggravated felony under U.S. immigration law. If you are convicted, you could be deported and also be ineligible for any legal relief that would allow you to stay in the country. For this reason, if you are facing any criminal charges as a non-citizen, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney in Austin as soon as you can.
What is an Aggravated Felony?
Federal law – specifically, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)- defines aggravated felonies. Importantly, the crime that you are charged with does not need to be “aggravated” or even a “felony” in your state to be considered an aggravated felony under the INA. In other words, you could be facing a state misdemeanor that immigration authorities may consider an aggravated felony that could result in your deportation.
Some examples of crimes that are typically aggravated felonies include:
- Drug trafficking
- Owning or operating a prostitution business
- Crimes related to forgery or counterfeiting
- Crimes related to theft, burglary, or receipt of stolen property
- Violent crimes
Potential Consequences of an Aggravated Felony Conviction
If you are convicted of an aggravated felony, you can face extremely harsh immigration penalties, including:
- Deportation without a hearing
- Ineligibility for cancellation of removal or waivers of inadmissibility
- Permanent inadmissibility into the United States
- More serious penalties for illegally reentering the United States
How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help?
If you are facing criminal charges as a non-citizen, there are many ways that a criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you. Your lawyer will carefully review the facts of your case and determine whether any defenses apply. For example, if the police violated your rights while investigating you, it may be possible to have any evidence against you suppressed, which means it can’t be used against you. Some other defenses that may be available include:
- Duress or coercion
- Insufficient evidence
- Mistaken identity
Importantly, even if there are no legal defenses available in your case, a criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal that prevents your conviction from being classified as an aggravated felony for the purposes of immigration law. The most effective way to explore your legal options is to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney as soon as you can.
Call Us Today to Speak with an Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are facing criminal charges that could result in immigration consequences, it’s imperative that you retain a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can. Attorney Jorge Vela is a former state and federal prosecutor who knows how to protect the rights of non-citizens and bring their criminal cases to the best resolution possible. In addition, Mr. Vela is qualified to advise you regarding both the criminal and immigration implications of the charges you are facing. To schedule a consultation with Mr. Vela, call our office today at (512) 537-1237 or contact us online.