Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 7.3 (A)

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(A)  Conviction-Based Immigration Consequences.  Most adverse immigration consequences of criminal cases flow from the existence of a criminal conviction.  Most of the most common grounds of deportation require a conviction to trigger them: About half of the 52 different grounds of deportation are triggered by a specified criminal conviction.[4]  These include, inter alia, aggravated felonies, controlled substances offenses, crimes of moral turpitude, domestic violence convictions, and firearms convictions, as well as a host of narrower grounds. See § 7.4, infra.  The same is true of the most important crime-related grounds of inadmissibility, including crimes of moral turpitude, controlled substances convictions, and multiple convictions with a five-year sentence imposed.  See § 7.5, infra.


                Many other immigration consequences are triggered by certain criminal convictions, including mandatory detention, judicial review limitations, disqualification from cancellation of removal and other forms of immigration relief, and the like.  See § 7.6, infra.  If there is no conviction, as defined under immigration law,[5] these grounds of deportation or inadmissibility cannot be established, and other conviction–based immigration consequences cannot be triggered.  Immigration authorities greatly prefer conviction-based grounds of deportation and inadmissibility, over conduct-based grounds, because of ease of proof. 

[4] These conviction-based grounds of deportation are defined in Appendix D, infra, [1], [3]-[6], [9], [11], [16]-[18], [21], [32], [34], [35], [40], [45], [46], [49], [51], [52].  See also N. Tooby & J. Rollin, Safe Havens: How To Identify And Construct Non-Deportable Convictions § § 7.18 ff. (2005), for discussions of safe havens applicable to each conviction-based ground of deportation.

[5] INA § 101(a)(48)(A), 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(48)(A).