Criminal Defense of Immigrants
§ 20.29 (G)
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(G) Immigration Consequences of Petty Offense Exception. The primary use of the Petty Offense Exception is to excuse inadmissibility on account of a conviction of, or admission of committing, one crime involving moral turpitude. The exception does not excuse inadmissibility on account of a drug conviction. The statute defining the Petty Offense Exception does not distinguish between admissions (of a crime or of acts which would form the elements of a crime) and actual convictions and so defeats inadmissibility in both cases. The Petty Offense Exception also defeats a ground of deportability in which the DHS charges the respondent with having been inadmissible at the time of admission for having committed a crime involving moral turpitude. In addition, a conviction coming within the Petty Offense Exception cannot be used to preclude a showing of Good Moral Character for purposes of voluntary departure. A conviction coming within the Petty Offense Exception also will not stop the clock for cancellation of removal applicants.
 For additional information, see Rosenberg, No Heartbreaker This Time: Petty Offense Rulings Favor Applicants, 8 Bender’s Imm. Bull. 960 (June 1, 2003).
 INA § 212(a)(2)(A)(ii)(II), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(2)(A)(ii)(II). See, e.g., Reyes-Morales v. Gonzales, 435 F.3d 937 (8th Cir. Jan. 31, 2006) (since one of two convictions was not a crime of moral turpitude, and the other qualified for the Petty Offense Exception to inadmissibility, respondent was not inadmissible for crimes under INA § 212(a)(2), 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(2), and therefore not disqualified from eligibility for NACARA special cancellation of removal under NACARA § 203), citing Cuadra v. Gonzales, 417 F.3d 947, 949 (8th Cir. 2005).
 Correspondence in March-May, 1989, of Odom, Chief of Advisory Opinions Division, Department of State, reprinted in 66 Interpreter Releases 1042-43, 1052-55 (Sept. 18, 1989). “The Immigration Act of 1990 appears to support that view. INA § 212(a)(2)(A)(ii) refers to exceptions only for crimes involving moral turpitude.” I. Kurzban, Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook 41 (7th Ed. 2000).
 Matter of C, 6 I. & N. Dec. 331 (BIA 1954); Matter of H, 6 I. & N. Dec. 738 (BIA 1955).
 Matter of Urpi-Sancho, 13 I. & N. Dec. 641 (BIA 1970). See Immigration Law and Crimes, § § 9:2 to 9:9.
 Matter of Deando-Romo, 23 I. & N. Dec. 597 (BIA May 8, 2003) (noncitizen convicted of two misdemeanor crimes involving moral turpitude not time-barred by INA § 240A(d)(1)(B), 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(d)(1)(B), since noncitizen’s first crime, which qualified for the Petty Offense Exception, did not render the noncitizen inadmissible; noncitizen was therefore able to accrue requisite 7 years of continuous residence before commission of second offense).
CRIMES OF MORAL TURPITUDE " PETTY OFFENSE EXCEPTION " MAXIMUM POSSIBLE SENTENCE CONTROLS
Matter of Ruiz-Lopez, 25 I&N Dec. 551 (BIA 2011) (maximum possible sentence for an offense, rather than the standard range of sentencing under a States sentencing guidelines, determines eligibility for the petty offense exception under INA 212(a)(2)(A)(ii)(II), 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(A)(ii)(II); but see United States v. Simmons, ___ F. 3d ___ (4th Cir. Aug 17, 2011)(where state sentence statute prohibits sentence in excess of one year, state conviction is not a felony under the federal definition even though statute defining the offense permits a greater sentence).
CRIMES OF MORAL TURPITUDE " PETTY OFFENSE EXCEPTION
Matter of Garcia, 25 I.& N. Dec. 332 (BIA 2010) (conviction for a single crime involving moral turpitude that qualifies as a petty offense is not for an offense referred to in section 212(a)(2), for purposes of triggering the stop-time rule even if it renders the alien removable under INA 237(a)(2)(A)(i), 8 U.S.C 1227 (a)(2)(A)(i).)
CRIMES OF MORAL TURPITUDE - PETTY OFFENSE EXCEPTION RELIEF - CANCELLATION OF REMOVAL FOR NON-LPRS - NONCITIZEN CONVICTED OF CMT IS INELIGIBLE REGARDLESS OF STATUS AS ARRIVING ALIEN
Matter of Gabriel Almanza-Arenas, 24 I. & N. Dec. 771 (BIA. Apr. 13, 2009) (noncitizen who has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude has been "convicted of an offense under" INA 237(a)(2), 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(2006), and is therefore ineligible for cancellation of removal under INA 240A(b)(1)(C), regardless of his status as an arriving alien or his eligibility for a petty offense exception under INA 212(a)(2)(A)(ii)(II), 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(A)(ii)(II)).
NOTE: This is a bad decision, contrary to earlier BIA precedent. Counsel should argue that this case applies only within the Ninth Circuit, as it relies upon a Ninth Circuit decision from 2004. Gonzalez-Gonzalez v. Ashcroft, 390 F.3d 649 (9th Cir. 2004) found that the plain language of 240A(b)(1)(C) required a noncitizen in inadmissibility proceedings be denied non-LPR cancellation because hed been convicted of a DV offense. This holding was based upon the "plain language" of the statute, thus no Chevron deference owed to the BIA cases to the contrary.
Under Matter of Garcia-Hernandez, such a person is not ineligible because the petty offense exception of 212(a) is incorporated into the moral character and specified offense bars of 240A(b)(1)(c) . This was recently reaffirmed in Matter of Gonzalez-Zoquiapan, 24 I&N Dec. 549, 554 (BIA 2008).
The BIA didnt address whether Almanza-Arenas had committed the CMT more than five years after his entry into the U.S. Arguably (see Moran v. Ashcroft, 395 F.3d 1089 (9th Cir. 2005)), a noncitizen with a CMT conviction is still ok if the offense falls within the petty offense exception AND was committed more than five years after entry to the U.S. INA 237(a)(2)(A)(i). Gonzalez v. Gonzalez didnt address the issue that a DV offense must be committed after admission to trigger removal. Counsel can argue that for purposes of 240A(b), the "admission" language is (somehow) deemed irrelevant in light of Gonzalez-Gonzalez, but the rest of the 237 language remains, including the five year requirement to trigger removal.
GOOD MORAL CHARACTER - PETTY OFFENSE EXCEPTION
Matter of Gonzalez-Zoquiapan, 24 I. & N. Dec. 549 (BIA Jun. 25, 2008) (reaffirming that CMT offense that falls within petty offense exception to inadmissibility does not create bar to good moral character), following Matter of Garcia-Hernandez, 23 I. & N. Dec. 590, 593 (BIA 2003).
PETTY OFFENSE EXCEPTION - SINGLE SCHEME
Matter of Medina-Lopez, 10 I & N Dec. 7 (BIA 1962) (the respondent in this case had been convicted, in Mexico, of petty theft and assault arising from a single mugging incident, the BIA determined that because these two offenses arose out of a "single scheme of misconduct" the convictions amounted to an equivalent to a single conviction for robbery, which if prosecuted under the District of Columbia Code, would have been punishable as a felony, and therefore did not qualify for the petty offense exception to inadmissibility). Thanks to Richard Breitman.
PETTY OFFENSE EXCEPTION - COMMISSION OF SECOND CMT AS DISQUALIFICATION - BURDEN OF PROOF
Matter of SF, 7 I. & N. Dec. 495 (BIA 1957) (if the preponderance of the evidence shows the noncitizen committed a second CMT, the petty offense exception to inadmissibility for one CMT conviction or admission does not apply).
CRIMES OF MORAL TURPITUDE " PETTY OFFENSE EXCEPTION " CONVICTION BARS NON-LPR CANCELLATION OF REMOVAL EVEN THOUGH IT FITS WITHIN THE PETTY OFFENSE EXCEPTION TO MORAL TURPITUDE INADMISSIBILITY
Hernandez v. Holder, 783 F.3d 189 (4th Cir. Apr. 14, 2015) (deferring to Matter of Cortez Canales, 25 I. & N. Dec. 301, 306"08 (2010), to find noncitizen barred from non-LPR cancellation of removal under INA 240A(b)(1), 8 U.S.C. 1229b(b)(1), due to being removable under INA 237(a)(2)(A)(i), 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(i), even though the noncitizens only crime fits within the petty offense exception to inadmissibility).
CRIMES OF MORAL TURPITUDE - PETTY OFFENSE EXCEPTION - MAXIMUM SENTENCE IS DETERMINED BY THE STATUTE, NOT THE GUIDELINES
Mejia-Rodriguez v. Holder, ___ F.3d ___, 2009 WL 456386 (1st Cir. Feb. 25, 2009) (for purposes of eligibility for the petty offense exception to inadmissibility, under INA 212(a)(2)(A) (ii)(II), 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(A)(ii)(II), the term "maximum penalty possible" is defined as the statutory range of imprisonment and not the federal Sentencing Guidelines range), following Mendez-Mendez v. Mukasey, 525 F.3d 828, 832-35 (9th Cir. 2008).
PETTY OFFENSE EXCEPTION - FELONY - CHARGING PAPER IS NOT DISPOSITIVE AS TO WHETHER CALIFORNIA WOBBLER, ALSO KNOWN AS ALTERNATIVE FELONY-MISDEMEANOR, IS A FELONY, SINCE THE COURT AT SENTENCE MAY REDUCE IT TO A MISDEMEANOR FOR ALL PURPOSES
United States v. Viezcas-Soto, 562 F.3d 903 (8th Cir. Apr. 10, 2009) (in California, the information filed as a felony is not dispositive of the felony-misdemeanor inquiry - i.e. whether the maximum punishment is in excess of one year; a California "wobbler" becomes a felony or misdemeanor only after the court enters judgment imposing a punishment), citing Cal. Penal Code 17(b)(1); see United States v. Brown, 33 F.3d 1014, 1018 (8th Cir.1994); United States v. Gomez-Hernandez, 300 F.3d 974, 978 (8th Cir.2002); United States v. Robinson, 967 F.2d 287, 293 (9th Cir.1992)).
CRIMES OF MORAL TURPITUDE " INADMISSIBILITY " PETTY OFFENSE EXCEPTION " NOT DISCRETIONARY
Cervantes v. Holder, ___ F.3d ___, 2014 WL 6463031 (9th Cir. Nov. 19, 2014) (the petty offense exception to inadmissibility, under INA 212(a)(2)(A)(ii), 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(A)(ii), based on a crime of moral turpitude, is mandatory and does not have any discretionary component); accord, Matter of Salvail, 17 I. & N. Dec. 19, 21 (BIA 1979) (explaining that the relief afforded by the petty offense exception is mandatory).
RELIEF - CANCELLATION FOR NON-LPRS - PETTY OFFENSE EXCEPTION
Vasquez-Hernandez v. Holder, 590 F.3d 1053,1055 n.2 (9th Cir. Jan. 6, 2010) (leaving open the question of whether an applicant for non-LPR cancellation of removal, who has a conviction that fits within the petty offense exception to inadmissibility, under INA 212(a)(2)(A)(ii)(II), is barred from cancellation of removal because of the conviction, where the "offense" of conviction is not described by any non-CMT grounds of deportation).
RELIEF - CANCELLATION FOR NON-LPRS - PETTY OFFENSE EXCEPTION
Vasquez-Hernandez v. Holder, 590 F.3d 1053 (9th Cir. Jan. 6, 2010) (California conviction of corporal injury of a spouse, in violation of Penal Code 273.5(a), which fit within the petty offense exception to inadmissibility, nonetheless disqualified respondent from eligibility for cancellation of removal for non-LPRs, under INA 240A(b), because the same offense could have been grounds for deportation as a crime of domestic violence, under INA 237(a)(2)(E)(i), 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(E)(i)).
PETTY OFFENSE EXCEPTION
United States v. Youssef, 547 F.3d 1090 (9th Cir. Nov. 5, 2008) (federal conviction for violation of 18 U.S.C. 1015(a), making a false statement in an immigration document, does not require the false statement to be material; even though prior conviction qualified for the petty offense exception to inadmissibility, and was therefore immaterial to admission, the noncitizen was required to disclose the fact of conviction).
CRIMES OF MORAL TURPITUDE - PETTY OFFENSE EXCEPTION - MAXIMUM SENTENCE REQUIREMENT - STATUTORY MAXIMUM NOT GUIDELINES MAXIMUM
Mendez-Mendez v. Mukasey, 525 F.3d 828 (9th Cir. May 8, 2008) (because statutory maximum term of imprisonment for bribery conviction was fifteen years, petty offense exception does not apply; plain language of INA 212(a)(2)(A)(ii)(II) indicates that "maximum penalty possible refers to statutory maximum, not the maximum guideline sentence to which noncitizen was exposed).
RELIEF " NON-LPR CANCELLATION OF REMOVAL " PETTY OFFENSE EXCEPTION
Lucio-Rayos v. Sessions, 875 F.3d 573 (10th Cir. Nov. 14, 2017)(assumed moral turpitude conviction disqualified respondent from eligibility for discretionary cancellation of removal, and qualifying for the petty offense exception to moral turpitude inadmissibility would not change this result); following In re Cortez Canales, 25 I&N Dec. 301, 303-04 (BIA 2010); see also Mancilla-Delafuente v. Lynch, 804 F.3d 1262, 1265-66 (9th Cir. 2015); Hernandez v. Holder, 783 F.3d 189, 191-96 (4th Cir. 2015).