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A need for criminal defense may not pair so well with immigration

Emigrating from another country of origin to live and work in New Jersey is not without its challenges for most immigrants. The first weeks or months in the United States may be spent overcoming a language barrier and dealing with a certain amount of culture shock. In time, new surroundings may start to feel like home, unless a serious problem arises that causes things to get a lot worse before they get better, such as winding up with a serious need for criminal defense.

Even getting a traffic ticket can be problematic for an immigrant, especially one whose residence is tied to a temporary visa, or worse, someone who has no paperwork at all. If prosecutors charge an immigrant with a serious crime, one that is listed as a felony, it may mean that life in the United States will come to an abrupt halt, and deportation proceedings will begin. If immigration officials determine removal is not necessary, a downgrade in legal status may be issued.

Certain offenses, such as suspected tax fraud, failure to appear at a scheduled court hearing, theft or battery are issues that can lead to aggravated felony charges. Conviction for aggravated felony leaves an immigrant at risk for immediate deportation. If the court determines a person has committed a crime of moral turpitude, it is also grounds for immediate removal.

Like any U.S. citizen or immigrant in another state, a person in New Jersey accused of a crime may seek immediate criminal defense assistance. Criminal charges do not constitute guilt. An experienced attorney can often take steps to help an immigrant, or any person charged with a crime, to try to mitigate his or her circumstances.

Source: FindLaw, "How Does a Felony Affect Immigration Status?", Accessed on March 23, 2018

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