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Will a Misdemeanor Conviction Affect My Immigration Status?

Immigration is a complicated and nuanced area of the law. Many different factors can have a significant impact on a person's immigration status. Possibly the most feared factors are criminal convictions. A criminal conviction can result in deportation and other consequences when it comes to a person's immigration status. Fortunately, not all criminal convictions will have a significant impact on a person's immigration status. But, whether or not a person is convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony is actually less significant when it comes to immigration status than the type of crime a person is convicted of. Serious Crimes and Aggravated Felonies Generally, serious crimes, like murder, drug trafficking, human trafficking, conspiracy, and others, will be grounds for deportation. However, starting in 1988, congress created a list of "aggravated felonies" which also can be grounds for deportation, and has expanded that list over time. It is worth noting that the list of aggravated felonies includes many crimes that are typically only charged as misdemeanors. The list initially only included serious offenses that one might expect to be grounds for deportation, but is continually being amended to include more minor violations, such as: Simple battery Theft Filing a fraudulent tax return Failure to appear in court In addition to the above crimes, any crime that is considered a crime of moral turpitude can also have grave impacts on a person's immigration status. Crimes of Moral Turpitude Crimes of moral turpitude generally include acts that infer a person has breached another person's or the public's trust. These can include both felonies and misdemeanors. While crimes like fraud, embezzlement, perjury, child abuse, and tax evasion are easy to understand as crimes where trust has been broken, small crimes like petty theft or shoplifting, which are typically misdemeanors, can also be considered as such. If a non-citizen is convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, or an aggravated felony, they may not only be deported, but they may be ineligible to return to U.S. forever. Therefore, it is incredibly important for any non-citizen facing criminal charges to not only consult a criminal attorney and inform them of their immigration status, but to also consult an experienced immigration attorney, especially before agreeing to any plea bargain. Related Resources: Find Immigration Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) How to Fight Wrongful Deportation (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Can ICE Agents Make Arrests at Courthouses? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Can This New Chatbot Solve Refugee Legal Issues? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Top Legal Questions About the President’s Power

There were certainly questions about presidential power during Barack Obama's presidency, especially when it came to Obamacare and his executive actions on gun control. But those questions have reached a fever pitch under President Donald Trump, as he has attempted to remake the presidency in his own image. So what are the limits on the president's power, if any? 1. Can President Trump Change the Constitution? As a candidate, Trump proposed quite a few constitutional amendments. Now that he's president, can he make them happen? Even though a president can't unilaterally change the text of the Constitution, he can direct executive agencies in their interpretation and enforcement of its provisions. 2. What Power Does the President Have Over Deportation Policy? There are reports of immigration officials pulling undocumented persons out of hospitals. Is this a new practice? And how much impact can President Trump have on choosing who to deport and why? 3. Can the President Really Curb Speech of Federal Agencies? Trump's White House issued directives to several federal agencies, looking to limit public statements and social media posts regarding matters that the previous administration supported. But do those orders violate federal employees' First Amendment rights? 4. Ethics Rules for White House Employees There are strict ethics rules regulating what government officials should do when they have a personal financial interest in a certain business or industry, generally requiring the official to disclose their interest and recuse themselves from work where there could be a conflict of interest. But the Trump administration appears to be playing fast and loose with those rules. 5. Can Trump Cancel the Iran Deal? Previous President Barack Obama's administration brokered a historic nuclear agreement with Iran in 2015, an accord current President Donald Trump has called "the stupidest deal of all time." Does that mean the current administration can back out of the deal? Related Resources: Find Civil Rights Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Trump's First Week as President (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Do Restrictions on Protests Violate the Constitution? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Trump's New Travel Ban Blocked Like the Old Travel Ban (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Federal Criminal Prosecutions Fall to 20 Year Low

According to new research released by the PEW research center, federal criminal prosecutions are on the decline. The new numbers show that federal criminal prosecutions have been on a consistent decline since 2011, and have even fallen to a 20 year low. Much of this is credited to the visionary approach implemented by former Attorney General Eric Holder to not prosecute every federal crime, but to focus on those where there is a substantial federal interest. Since 2011, there has been an approximate 25 percent reduction in new federal criminal cases. Federal prosecutors have gone from charging over 100,000 new cases a year, to charging about 77,000. The most common type of federal crimes that get prosecuted involve drug charges. Despite the recent trend among states to legalize marijuana, there are many other types of illegal drugs, and federal drug charges still account for the majority of federal prosecutions. However, over the past 5 years, there has been nearly a 25 percent reduction in drug prosecutions alone. Federal Crimes Prosecuted Less Most criminal prosecutions are handled by state and local prosecutors. However, when an individual violates federal criminal laws, such as those related to drugs, guns, or financial crimes, federal prosecutors can bring criminal charges in the federal court system. Also, deportation cases are also considered to be federal criminal prosecutions. Although violent crimes make up only a very small percentage of federal criminal prosecutions, that does not mean violent criminals get a pass. Typically, violent crimes are prosecuted by the states. According to the PEW research center, over half of all state prisoners have been sentenced due to violent crimes, compared to less than 10% of federal inmates. The only area where federal prosecutions were noted to have increased involved a small increase in prosecutions for gun and violent crimes. Looking Forward Although the newly appointed Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is taking a strong stance and wants to increase federal criminal prosecutions for drug and gun crimes, he will have to do so with a shrinking budget as the DOJ is one of the many agencies that has impending budget cuts. Related Resources: Daylight Savings Time Could Reduce Crime Rates (FindLaw Blotter) 10 States With the Highest Rates of Violent Crime (FindLaw Blotter) Gang Membership Up, Violent Crime Rate Down (FindLaw Blotter) What Is a Special Prosecutor? How Does It Relate to Recusal? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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DUI and Immigration Status

The last thing you want to do if you are applying for citizenship is get a DUI. Even if you're in the country legally on a visa or green card, immigration officials may deport you or downgrade your status on the basis of a criminal conviction, especially for a felony. Here's what you need to know about a how a DUI conviction could affect your immigration status. DUI and Deportation If you are a foreign national, a DUI might not necessarily lead to deportation. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) generally considers a number of factors with regard to the penalties faced by an immigrant to the U.S., and deportation is generally reserved for aggravated felonies like battery, theft, filing a fraudulent tax return, and failure to appear in court. Of course, if your DUI is charged as a felony, you could run the risk of deportation. A DUI could become a felony if you have had prior DUI convictions, had an extremely elevated blood alcohol concentration, had children in the car, were driving on a suspended or revoked license, or caused death or injury in a car accident. Status Update Even if you do not get deported, your immigration status could be altered after a DUI conviction. If you're a legal permanent resident, you could be deported or detained during removal proceedings, or be barred from becoming a naturalized citizen in the future. Refugees and asylees could be deported after a criminal conviction, even if they would be in grave danger in their home country, and a conviction may result in the inability to obtain legal permanent resident status.Non-citizens with temporary lawful status (including individuals with nonimmigrant visas and those with temporary protected status) could lose that status and be removed from the country for any felony conviction or two or more misdemeanor convictions. And because undocumented immigrants are not authorized to be in the U.S., any criminal offense can result in deportation. In some legal proceedings, like immigration or deportation proceedings, even an expungement of a DUI may still be considered as proof of a prior conviction. To know for sure how a DUI will affect your immigration status, contact a local DUI attorney today. Related Resources: Don't face a DUI alone. Get your case reviewed by a lawyer for free now. (Consumer Injury) Can Your U.S. Citizenship Be Revoked? (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Can a Guilty Plea Affect My Immigration Status? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Which Crimes Can Get Legal Immigrants Deported? (FindLaw Blotter)
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What Happens After a DUI in a Foreign Country?

Getting a DUI in a foreign country is bad news -- just ask "Star Trek" actor Chris Pine, who had to pay more than $400 in fines and court costs after a drunken-driving arrest in New Zealand, Reuters reports. Although it's unclear how Pine's out-of-country DUI will affect him back in the United States, generally speaking, a foreign DUI can still have an impact after you return to your home country. Here are four things that could potentially happen after getting a DUI in foreign country: Your immigration status may be affected. Although foreigners who are first-time DUI offenders in the United States probably won't get deported unless there are other factors that make it a crime of violence or aggravated felony, the conviction could hurt their immigration status. For foreigners who want to become naturalized U.S. citizens, a DUI could be a roadblock to meeting the "good character" requirement. Expungement may not be an option. Expungement is a legal process that allows a past arrest or conviction to be erased from an individual's criminal record. Depending on the law of the country where your DUI conviction occurred, you may not be able to expunge the crime from your record. If the record isn't expunged, it can come up in background checks. It may impact sentencing for other crimes. Although the DUI occurred in a foreign country, that conviction or arrest can be considered if you're being sentenced for another crime in the States. Repeat offenders tend to get harsher punishments than first-time offenders, so a DUI in another country can still follow you back home and count against you. You may be barred from going back to the foreign country. Visitors with a criminal record may be denied entry into a foreign country. Even high-profile celebrities aren't immune from this: You may recall Mike Tyson was barred from entering the United Kingdom because of a rape conviction. Under UK law, travelers who've been convicted of an offense that includes a prison term of at least four years can potentially be denied entry. Several other countries have similar types of entry laws. Perhaps it's the anonymity of being in a foreign country that causes some people to forget to follow drunken-driving laws. If you're concerned about how a DUI in a foreign country will affect you back home, consult an experienced DUI attorney for more help. Related Resources: Chris Pine Drunken Driving: 'Star Trek' Actor Pleads Guilty To DUI Charges In New Zealand (The Associated Press) Victim of Crime Abroad? Here's What to Do (FindLaw's Blotter) Can You Expunge Out-of-State Convictions? (FindLaw's Blotter) What to Do If You're Arrested in a Foreign Country (FindLaw's Blotter)
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5 Questions to Ask an Immigration Lawyer

For people from foreign countries who want to stay in the United States or become a citizen, what are five questions to ask an immigration lawyer before you hire one? Although it's not required that you hire an immigration attorney when filing for citizenship or a green card, an experienced immigration lawyer can help clarify laws to make sure that all your paperwork is filled out and filed correctly. If you're facing an immigration-related legal issue -- such as deportation -- you'll also want professional legal help by your side. If you decide to hire an attorney, here are five questions you may want to ask an immigration lawyer to see if he or she is the right fit for you: What types of immigration cases do you handle? Immigration lawyers handle a variety of cases involving issues such as work visas, green cards, asylum, family law, and citizenship, just to name a few. Some may focus on a particular area of immigration law, so you'll want to ask about their experience and expertise. What are your fees? A very important question to ask an immigration lawyer is what his or her fees are. For some more straightforward cases, like filling out a visa application, the lawyer may charge a flat fee. For more complicated cases, like obtaining citizenship for people who illegally immigrated to the country, the lawyer may charge an hourly fee. Which documents should I bring to our initial meeting? Immigration issues usually require lots of evidence, so ask your attorney what you need to bring for your first meeting with him or her. For example, to apply for citizenship, some of the items you may need to bring include a green card, documents showing any name changes, and copies of your tax returns for the past three to five years. Do you speak my language? If English isn't your first language, you might want to ask an immigration lawyer if he or she speaks your native language. This will help facilitate your understanding of the law and the attorney's understanding of your issues. If your matter involves depositions, court appearances, or documents written in another language, ask whether you'll need to hire an interpreter or translator for your case. How will you update me about my case? An unfortunate side of immigration is that visas expire or people get deported. This can make it difficult for clients to keep in touch with their attorneys. So it's important to ask your immigration lawyer how they'll update you about your case if you're no longer in the country. Some may choose to communicate via email or could use video chatting technology, like Skype or Google Hangouts. It's always good to ask your immigration lawyer as many questions about your case as you can, because it can help them understand your goals better. To learn more about immigration-related legal issues, check out our comprehensive section on Immigration Law. Related Resources: How to Become a U.S. Citizen by Marriage (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) How to Apply for Asylum or Refugee Status (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) 5 Common Reasons to Deny U.S. Citizenship (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) The FindLaw Guide to Applying for Your Green Card (FindLaw - Free Download)
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Is It Legal to Carry a Sword in Public?

Not many Americans walk around carrying swords -- at least, not nearly as many who want to carry guns. But if you are fantasizing about loitering like a modern-day ronin, you'll want to consider a few legal pointers first. Are Swords Just Big Knives? Swords come in many shapes and sizes, but most are considered "bladed weapons" under the law. And like their shorter cousins -- knives -- swords typically fall under state laws prohibiting the carrying of bladed weapons over a certain length. However, the law can be different depending on whether the blade is sheathed. Here are a few state examples: In California, anything with a fixed blade (like a sword) must be worn in plain view. But sheathed knives worn openly are not considered illegal concealed weapons. However, if you're carrying a cane sword, you can be charged with a misdemeanor. In Texas, illegal knives are described as knives with blades longer than 5.5 inches, along with swords. Still, swords are legal to carry if they are being used in historical demonstrations or ceremonies in which the sword is "significant to the performance of the ceremony." In New York, possession of a cane sword is a misdemeanor, but it can become a felony if it is a sword-carrier's second or third offense. Federal law has similar prohibitions about carrying bladed weapons in public, although you may be able to pack a sword in your checked luggage if you follow the rules. Potential Issues With Sword Laws There are many instances in which carrying a sword would be considered a religious/cultural practice or part of a sport or martial art. For example, for religious Sikhs, laws preventing the public wearing of a kirpan -- a small sheathed sword -- may be seen as barring a religious and cultural right. According to The Times of India, a January 2014 change in Pentagon policy should now permit Sikh soldiers to wear a kirpan and other articles of faith. Those who enjoy fencing may wish to carry an �p�e, sabre, or foil, but even if sheathed, it may be illegal to carry in public on your person. Same goes for any other martial arts weapon that resembles a sword. Depending on your state and local laws, it may be best to store these blades at the recreational location at which you practice. So while it may be legal in some specific circumstances, carrying a sword in public is typically illegal. Related Resources: Is it Legal to Carry a Knife? (FindLaw's Blotter) Cops: 'Ugly Betty' Actor Kills Mom With Sword (FindLaw's Blotter) Store Clerk's Sword Thwarts Robbery Attempt (FindLaw's Free Enterprise) Man Uses Sword, Guitar in Pulp Fiction-Like Tattoo Shop Attack (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
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