How will Pleading Guilty affect my Immigration?
Be careful before you take a plea deal –
While immigration is federal law, the vast majority of criminal matters are governed by state law. As a result, the definitions do not always match. For instance, in Minnesota, there is a criminal offense called “Theft by Swindle”. While this is considered a theft offense under Minnesota law, it is considered a fraud offense under federal law. Theft offenses and fraud offenses are measured differently when determining deportability- if you are convicted or plead guilty to a theft offense it is the length of the sentence that matters, whereas for fraud offenses it is the amount of the victim’s loss that matters. If you had taken a plea deal for Theft by Swindle thinking that you would be safe from deportation because the sentence was less than one year, you would be surprised to find out that deportation proceedings could still be brought against you depending on the value of the property or services taken.
This is only one of many examples. Before accepting a plea deal, make sure you have been advised on the immigration consequences by an experienced immigration attorney.