Immigration Representing the Accused for 30+ Years

Phoenix Immigration Lawyer

A Former Federal Public Defender and Published Immigration Lawyer Protecting You Against Deportation

When you are facing criminal charges as an immigrant or non-citizen, you could be treading uncertain and anxious waters. This is where Attorney Robert J. McWhirter comes in. He has over 30 years of experience in a variety of legal roles, including working as a federal public defender, teaching law students and other lawyers, working on criminal justice reform in El Salvador, and publishing books on legal topics. In fact, one of his books is the first one that came out almost 20 years ago on immigration criminal defense.

If you are a non-citizen dealing with criminal charges, do not feel threatened by the possibility of deportation. Contact the Law Offices of Robert J. McWhirter online or at (480) 690-9097 for legal counsel. Se habla español.


Deportable Crimes for Immigrants or Non-Citizens

If a non-citizen is convicted of a crime in the U.S., they risk their immigration status – by deportation or by inadmissibility. More specifically, federal law states that: 

  • “Any alien who – (I) is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude committed within 5 years (or 10 years in the case of an alien with lawful permanent resident status) after the date of admission, and (II) is convicted of a crime for which a sentence of 1 year or longer may be imposed is deportable.” (8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(i)(I-II)).
  • “Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted of 2 or more crimes involving moral turpitude, not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct, regardless of whether confined and regardless of whether the convictions were in a single trial, is deportable.” (8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii)).

Deportation removes the non-citizen back to their home country. However, it is also possible that a convicted non-citizen faces inadmissibility instead of deportation, where inadmissibility prohibits the individual from re-entering the country after leaving, becoming a U.S. citizen, or applying for a green card (adjusting to a legal permanent resident).

Generally, crimes that may lead to deportation fall under one of the following categories:

  • crimes of moral turpitude;
  • aggravated felonies;
  • drug offenses;
  • firearms offenses; and
  • domestic violence crimes.

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Any non-citizen who is convicted of a crime of moral turpitude committed within 5 years (or 10 years if they are a lawful permanent resident) and whose sentence is 1 year or longer may be deported. Additionally, if a non-citizen is convicted of 2 or more crimes of moral turpitude, they may also be deported.

Generally, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the definition of “moral turpitude” is an act that is inherently base, vile, or depraved, and is contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society. Examples of such a crime in Arizona could be sex crimes (including failure to register as a sex offender), fraud, and offenses involving reckless or intentional action causing great bodily harm or threatening to cause great bodily harm.

Aggravated Felonies

Non-citizens convicted of an aggravated felony could also face deportation. Some examples of aggravated felonies punishable under criminal immigration law include:

  • murder;
  • rape;
  • sexual abuse of a minor;
  • drug trafficking;
  • illicit trafficking in firearms;
  • theft crimes punishable by more than 1 year in prison;
  • prostitution crimes (e.g., pimping); and
  • fraud crimes involving at least $10,000.

Drug Convictions

Another deportable offense is related to illegal possession or use of controlled substances. Non-citizens who are drug abusers or addicts are also deportable. As a result, even simple possession of substances like heroin or meth could lead to deportation. Naturally, the distribution, sale, manufacturing, or trafficking of an illicit substance, including marijuana, is also a deportable offense.

Firearm Offenses

Crimes involving the use of firearms are also punishable by removal from the country. In particular, any non-citizen who is convicted under any law of purchasing, selling, offering for sale, exchanging, using, owning, possessing, or carrying any weapon, part, or accessory which is a firearm or destructive device could lead to serious penalties as well as deportation. The attempt to do the aforementioned is also just as criminalized.

In practice, however, the defendant is only likely to be deported if they have been found guilty of committing the federal firearm offense for which they have been charged.

Domestic Violence Crimes

Lastly, a person may face deportation if they have been convicted of domestic violence, which includes offenses like: 

  • stalking;
  • violating a protection order;
  • child abuse;
  • child neglect; or
  • child abandonment.

Violations of a protection order may occur if the defendant commits credible threats of violence, repeated harassment, or bodily injury to the person protected by the order. 

Note that to be considered domestic violence, the crime must have been committed against a family or household member, such as: 

  • a current or former spouse;
  • someone the person shares a child in common;
  • an individual they are or had been cohabiting with.

A person could face deportation even if they have one single conviction of domestic violence. 

Let Attorney Robert J. McWhirter Protect Your Rights. Se Habla Español.

If you are a non-citizen whose immigration status is at risk due to a felony conviction, do not hesitate to take legal action immediately in your defense. You may already be under significant stress and pressure as an immigrant in Arizona, but having criminal charges against you could bring even more uncertainty as it carries the consequence of deportation. Attorney Robert J. McWhirter has extensive experience representing immigrants in Arizona, and he is a certified criminal specialist whose deep knowledge of the law (after all, he has written on numerous legal topics in both English and Spanish, as well as worked on criminal justice reform in El Salvador). His wealth of professional experience will help you combat your charges and protect your immigration status.

Contact the Law Offices of Robert J. McWhirter online or at (480) 690-9097 to learn more.

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Why Choose Attorney Robert McWhirter?

Attorney Robert McWhirter's highly regarded reputation comes from his proven success handling all aspects of criminal defense in State and Federal courts.
  1. Over 30 Years of Legal Experience
  2. Personal, One-on-One Attention
  3. Certified Specialist in Criminal Law
  4. Former Federal Public Defender
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