If you are facing charges of domestic violence, or have been convicted of a domestic violence offense, then your immigration status may be at risk. Revocation of your legal status, and subsequent deportation, may be among your greatest concerns.
You have good reason to be concerned, as your ability to remain in the United States could depend on a strong defense to your domestic violence charges. Even if you've already been convicted, a capable attorney could help you avoid deportation.
Don't let a mistake or false allegation compromise your American dream. Hire a capable attorney as soon as possible.
Who Can Be Convicted on Charges of Domestic Violence?
Per N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19, domestic violence statutes in New Jersey apply to certain relationships, including those between:
● Boyfriend or girlfriend
● Domestic partners
Certain other relationships may fall under the purview of New Jersey domestic violence statutes. An attorney from our firm can explain whether you're facing charges that fall under the state's domestic violence laws.
What Are the Penalties for a Domestic Violence Conviction?
Penalties for a domestic violence conviction depend on the specific charge you face. Specific offenses that may qualify as domestic violence include:
● Criminal restraint
● Criminal coercion
● Criminal trespass
● Criminal mischief
● False imprisonment
● Terroristic threats
● Sexual assault/criminal sexual contact
The state of New Jersey reserves the right to charge domestic violence offenses at either the misdemeanor level (known as a disorderly persons offense) or the felony level (known as an indictable offense).
For non-citizens who are in New Jersey on a conditional or temporary basis, the immigration-specific consequences of a domestic violence conviction can be even greater than the legal ones.
What Could a Domestic Violence Charge Mean for My Immigration Status?
Section 1227(E) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) plainly explains that you can be deported if you're convicted of an act of domestic violence.
You may be deported for a domestic violence conviction regardless of:
● Whether you are in the United States through a spousal visa, work visa, student visa, or any other type of immigrant visa
● How long you have legally resided in the country
● How many dependents you have
● How much good you have done in the community
I.N.A. § 1227(E) leaves no room for confusion:
"Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted of a crime of domestic violence, a crime of stalking, or a crime of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment is deportable."
Similarly, the statute explains that you can also be deported if you violate an order of protection issued against you by a New Jersey court (or any other court in America):
"Any alien who at any time after admission is enjoined under a protection order issued by a court and whom the court determines has engaged in conduct that violates the portion of a protection order that involves protection against credible threats of violence, repeated harassment, or bodily injury to the person or persons for whom the protection order was issued is deportable."
Your status as a legal immigrant may currently allow you to support your family, flee persecution in your home country, and remain on a path to possible citizenship. If you're convicted of domestic violence, you may lose these (and other) invaluable benefits that immigrants in America receive.
It is critical that you hire an attorney who will fight your domestic violence case as if their own immigration status was on the line.
Sure, I Can Be Deported for a DV Conviction, But Will I Be Deported Because of a Domestic Violence Conviction?
Domestic violence offenses in New Jersey range from comparatively mild (lewdness, harassment) to extremely violent (sexual assault, homicide). Those who make final decisions about deportation make choices on a case-by-case basis—therefore, your risk of deportation may vary depending on the specific nature of your criminal conviction.
The I.N.A. mentions two specific types of domestic violence conviction that will pose a high risk of deportation:
1) A crime of moral turpitude (CMT): Crimes of moral turpitude are those that are shocking in nature, and might be universally condemned as a malicious or even "vile" act. There are several offenses that fall under the domestic violence umbrella that could qualify as a CMT, depending on the specific details of the alleged crime.
2) An aggravated felony: Aggravated felonies are felonies of a particularly serious nature. Homicide, sexual assault, and severe cases of physical assault may qualify as aggravated felonies.
Even if your criminal conviction doesn't qualify as a CMT or aggravated felony, those who control your immigration status may look especially poorly upon any violent act.
The truth is that any conviction of domestic violence poses a serious threat to your immigration status. You should absolutely not assume that, because the offense you've been accused of is non-violent, you will avoid deportation. This is not necessarily the case.
There is one clear way to avoid deportation based on a domestic violence conviction: Allow an attorney to fight your case, hopefully securing a dismissal or reduction of the charges against you.
How Can I Fight an Unwanted Change in My Immigration Status?
It is generally smart to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you from a domestic violence charge. There is too much at stake—your legal status and all the benefits it provides—to try and defend yourself.
An attorney may fight your case by:
● Gathering evidence that suggests you're not guilty of the alleged offense
● Obtaining witness accounts that speak to your good character, or to specific elements of your case
● Contacting the prosecutor's office to see if they will dismiss or reduce the charges against you
● Negotiating a plea bargain that would allow you to maintain your lawful immigrant status
● Fighting your case in court, if necessary
The Lento Law Firm understands the unique considerations that arise when a client in New Jersey is a non-citizen. We know that your remaining in the country is a priority, and our legal strategy for your case will reflect this.
Call The Lento Law Firm Today to Discuss Your Case
There is no time to waste when it comes to your domestic violence case. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team will use all available time to prepare your defense.
Call The Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or submit your case details online. You've worked hard to get to this country. Don't let a domestic violence charge take your dreams away. Let The Lento Law Firm fight for you.