The five major categories of deportable crimes are crimes of moral turpitude, aggravated felonies, drug offenses, firearms offenses, and domestic violence.
Except for crimes of moral turpitude, all categories of deportable offenses have set definitions within the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act). An aggravated felony (note that not all felonies are deportable offenses) could be murder, rape, drug or firearm trafficking, sexual abuse of a minor, or fraud crimes that result in at least $10,000 of loss. Deportable Drug offenses include drug manufacturing, sale, or simple possession. Illegally purchasing, selling, using, or carrying a firearm falls into the category of deportable firearm offenses. Lastly, an conviction of a domestic violence offense is a deportable crime. This includes not just domestic battery but also child abuse or violating a restraining order.
What is a Crime of Moral Turpitude?
Unlike the other four categories that have set definitions in the INA, crimes of moral turpitude are more nebulous and, therefore, more complicated. Courts have moral turpitude as a corruption of the social contract, where you fail to meet the basic duties everyone owes others and society as a whole.
Californian courts have decided that arson, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, cultivation of marijuana, forgery, grand theft, kidnapping, murder, drug possession with the intent to sell, rape, and repeated felony DUI convictions fall into the category of crimes of moral turpitude.
Being convicted of a single crime of moral turpitude is not enough to be a deportable offense. Instead, you must be convicted of a crime of moral turpitude for which the prison sentence is at least one year, within five years of being admitted to the United States, or be convicted of two or more crimes of moral turpitude.
Who Can be Deported Due to a Criminal Conviction?
Any non-citizen living in the United States can be deported if convicted of a deportable offense. Even if you have lived in the U.S. most of your life, are well established, or have a citizen dependent, you may still be deported. Additionally, even if you have a permanent residence, a visa, or have been granted asylum, you are still subject to the INA deportation regulations.
Being convicted of a crime may also lead to inadmissibility. While this may not remove you from the county, it can prevent you from reentering the U.S. after leaving, becoming a citizen, or applying for a green card or adjustment of status.
Are There any Exceptions to Deportable Offenses?
While some categories of deportable offenses offer no exceptions, there is some slight leeway with drug and firearm offenses. If you have been convicted of a single charge of simple possession of marijuana (as long as it is less than thirty grams), it is not a deportable crime.
You are only likely to be deported for firearm offenses if you are convicted of a federal offense. If you violate California gun laws, it will likely only lead to deportation if it involves an assault weapon or is used in committing another crime.
For any questions you have on deportable crimes, call an experienced California attorney now at (408) 645-6395.