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Criminal charges may impact your immigration proceedings

Living as an immigrant in New Jersey has no doubt presented several challenges in your life. In addition to common struggles, such as language barriers and cultural differences, you may have also faced complications regarding your legal status, employment or other official matter at some point in your journey. Many immigrants say they live in fear, especially where recent crackdowns on legal enforcement of deportation regulations are concerned.

If all your papers are in order and you do your best to abide by U.S. immigration laws, as well as all state laws that affect your daily life, you shouldn't have a problem. If, on the other hand, you wind up facing criminal charges or an immigration officer detains you for possible removal, you may feel like the world dropped from under your feet and wonder if it's even possible to achieve a positive outcome. A key factor in such situations is knowing where to turn for support.

When criminal justice and immigration proceedings intertwine

Let's say a police officer pulls you over and charges you with impaired driving or operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver's license. The following list provides information as to what you might expect regarding the criminal justice process and immigration proceedings:

  • If you are placed in jail regarding a traffic-stop-turned-criminal-charge, it wouldn't be uncommon for an immigration official to show up asking questions regarding your status. However, you do not have to answer questions or sign any papers without first consulting with an experienced immigration advocate.
  • Immigration officials often ask jail wardens to detain immigrants after they already secure their releases regarding their criminal justice situations. A detainer typically lasts 48 hours. There are certain circumstances under which you may be able to get an ICE detainer lifted.
  • If you get transferred into the custody of immigration officials, you may not be able to take your important criminal justice documents with you; so, it's crucial to try to remember names, phone numbers and any other information you might need to help you rectify your situation.
  • During immigration proceedings, you have a right to remain silent. You may request representation before providing any personal information, including your birthplace.

As far as criminal charges are concerned, if you're not a U.S. citizen, you may want to immediately divulge this information to your support person. If the court hands down a conviction, it may be grounds for your immediate removal. This is why many New Jersey immigrants act alongside experienced guidance when dealing with situations that involve criminal charges as well as their legal residence standing in the United States. With appropriate advocacy, you may be able to avoid a worst case scenario.

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