Orlando Immigration Criminal Defense Lawyer
Many times, the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction are much worse than the fines, jail time, probation, and other direct consequences. THat’s especially true if you have citizenship issues. Conviction of even a rather minor criminal offense can mean removal to a place to which you have little or no connection. And, ICE agents are very aggressive in this area.
So, you need an equally aggressive lawyer on your side. That’s the kind of lawyer you’ll find at the O’Mara Law Group. Deportation proceedings are quasi-criminal proceedings which require a special touch. Over the years, our Orlando immigration criminal defense lawyers have learned that if we make things difficult for ICE lawyers, they are often willing to make a favorable deal or even drop the proceeding altogether.
The Deportation Process in Florida
Sometimes, ICE begins removal proceedings many months, or even many years, following a criminal conviction. However, in most cases, ICE places an immigration hold on noncitizen inmates. It is very difficult, but not impossible, to secure reasonable bail for these individuals.
An Immigration Judge, which is similar to an administrative law judge, oversees the removal process. Some common defenses, such as illegally obtained evidence, are unavailable in deportation proceedings. That’s because removal is not a criminal process. If ICE establishes every element of the removal petition, the IJ may initiate deportation proceedings. Typically, proving a conviction-related petition may simply mean introducing a certified copy of the judgment into evidence.
So, the best way to fight removal proceedings is to be proactive. An attorney must fight the underlying charges in state or federal court. In many situations, the best way to solve a problem is to deal with it before it gets out of control. That’s certainly the case in this context.
Most removal proceedings end not in trials but with a voluntary plea. Sometimes, the defendant may agree to voluntarily leave the country instead of being deported. The waiting period for re-entry is much shorter in voluntary removal cases.
Deportable Offenses in Orange County
Either a misdemeanor or a felony conviction could lead to deportation proceedings. Under federal law, deferred adjudication usually counts as a conviction.
If a person commits a felony, federal law presumes that the person is dangerous and should no longer be allowed to live in the United States. The specific felonies are:
- Drug or weapons trafficking,
- Financial crimes, like fraud or theft, which involve more than $10,000,
- Sexual offense against minors,
- A violent felony, like rape or murder, and
- Any aggravated felony.
INA § 101(a)(43) contains a list of about a dozen aggravated felonies. A “crime of violence” is on the list. This designation applies to any non-political crime that carries any prison term.
If the defendant was convicted of a misdemeanor, the offense must be a crime of moral turpitude. This designation is rather vague. CMTs usually include any crime with a mens rea (criminal state of mind) like intentionally or recklessly. DUI is a regulatory offense and not a CMT.
Some exceptions to this rule may apply. ICE can only begin removal proceedings if the defendant has at least one CMT conviction in the first five years of residency or two CMT convictions at any time after they come to the United States. A petty offense CMT exception may apply as well.
Rely on Experienced Attorneys
Almost any criminal conviction may trigger deportation proceedings. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Orlando, contact the O’Mara Law Group. We routinely handle matters in Orange County and nearby jurisdictions.