The U.S. criminal justice system often doesn’t send people accused of crimes to trial. Prosecutors often push plea bargains to ensure a high conviction rate and reduce court costs.
To those facing serious criminal charges, pleading guilty to a reduced charge that offers lower penalties can seem very tempting. However, plea bargains carry with them negative consequences. Reviewing a plea bargain carefully is critical – particularly for immigrants.
A conviction might affect your ability to stay in the United States
There have been many cases in recent years of prosecutors using criminal charges as a way to deport immigrants. A conviction of an offense that qualifies as a crime of moral turpitude could potentially result in the end of your legal status as an immigrant.
Even minor charges could impact your immigration status. You don’t have to face deportation for a crime to end your time in the U.S. If your employer has a zero-tolerance policy, you could lose your job and your visa sponsorship due to a guilty plea.
A criminal record could affect your future rights as well
Even if you don’t face deportation after a plea bargain, pleading guilty to a crime could affect your future immigration rights. If you attempt to apply for permanent resident status or to become a naturalized citizen, your plea bargain could eventually stop you from achieving those goals. A thorough criminal background check is a key component of both the naturalization and status adjustment processes.
Fighting back against criminal charges so that you don’t have a record is a much safer choice for an immigrant than taking a plea bargain. An experienced immigration attorney can provide valuable guidance.