Plea deals are sometimes a way for both sides—the defendant and the prosecution—to resolve a criminal case in a way that avoids the uncertainties involved with taking a case to trial. However, if you are an immigrant, a plea bargain—or a plea deal—may end up being a worse deal than it appears to be. It can subject you to deportation or removal from the United States.
If you are an immigrant and have been arrested, you need experienced legal counsel on your side representing you every step of the way. A skilled and knowledgeable St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer can discuss the potential immigration consequences of pleading guilty or no contest to a criminal charge.
What Is a ‘Conviction’ or ‘Guilty Finding’ for Purposes of Immigration?
If you were arrested for a criminal offense but the charges were either dropped or dismissed, you did not sustain a conviction. However, it is important to note that merely being arrested for a crime can have immigration consequences in some cases. Convictions in juvenile court will also not count against you for immigration purposes. However, if you were under the age of 18 but charged as an adult for the underlying crime, you could still be deported.
Moreover, if you were not ‘officially’ found guilty for the underlying charge, but you plead guilty or ‘no contest’ (or entered into a plea deal), and a judge ordered some sort of penalty, you could still be subject to deportation. This is true even if the plea is later withdrawn upon completion of court-ordered requirements, such as drug counseling or community service.
What Should I Do After Being Arrested?
If you have been arrested for a crime that could potentially subject you to deportation, you have several options:
- Find out whether you can plead your charge down to something that would not subject you to deportation (i.e., a lesser offense)
- Take the risk of going to trial in hopes that you will not be found guilty of the underlying crime with which you have been charged
Of course, each situation is different, and you should always explore your legal options with the assistance of an experienced lawyer.
Contact a St. Petersburg Criminal Defense and Immigration Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case
If you are a foreign national and have been charged with a crime, you need a skilled attorney who is experienced in both criminal defense and immigration matters. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg, Florida criminal defense and immigration lawyer, please call Khonsari Law Group at (727) 269-5300 or contact us online.