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Aggravated Felony Immigration Consequences

The government is authorized to bring removal proceedings (formerly referred to as deportation) against any non-citizen who has been convicted of an “aggravated felony” at any time after entry. When first introduced in 1988 as a ground for removal, “aggravated felony” only referred to murder, drug trafficking and trafficking in firearms. The list has since been expanded several times and now includes rape, sexual abuse of a minor, money laundering, crimes of violence for which the term of imprisonment is at least one year, theft, burglary, kidnapping, child pornography, RICO offenses, promoting prostitution, fraud offenses where the loss exceeds $10,000, forgery, obstruction of justice, and other crimes. The term aggravated felony is fully retroactive and applies regardless of when the conviction was entered. And as with crimes involving moral turpitude, these offenses run the gamut from very serious to relatively minor crimes. This is why many non-citizens attempt to file motions for Post-Conviction Relief “PCR” if they entered a plea to a crime that was not categorized as an aggravated felony at the time or they were not properly informed that the plea would result in deportation/removal proceedings.

NJ Aggravated Felony Immigration Attorney

In determining whether a particular crime is an aggravated felony, federal law, no state law, controls. Therefore it does not matter if a crime is categorized as a misdemeanor or disorderly persons offense under state law, because it can still be an aggravated felony if it falls within the INA definition. Furthermore, a suspension of a sentence does not change the classification of a crime as an aggravated felony. However, this does not mean that the definitions of certain aggravated felonies are not open for debate. For instance, drug trafficking which is one of the original aggravated felonies, has been subject to a lot of controversy over the years, in part because the definition of that crime includes the relatively common offense of simple drug possession. The government now defers to the federal circuit courts of appeal as to whether a particular state crime constitutes a felony trafficking offense. Moreover, what actually constitutes a “crimes of violence” within the definition of an aggravated felony has also been the matter of recent debate including whether or not a DWI conviction falls within this category. If you or your family member has been charged with an aggravated felony in New Jersey then it is important you consult with a criminal immigration attorney who can explain all possible immigration consequences as well as aggressively represent you in court for your charges. Contact our office today at (732) 450-8300 to speak with an attorney or schedule an appointment for a free consultation.