Misdemeanor offenses don’t come with severe penalties for most people in Texas. Often, the court will order the defendant to pay a fine, and the matter ends without jail time. But the consequences for misdemeanor crimes can become more serious when the defendant is not a citizen of the United States.
Crimes that merit deportation
Immigrants that commit a crime of “moral turpitude” within five years of entering the country become eligible for deportation or removal. There is no specific definition used to identify these crimes, but most aggravated felonies apply under the “moral turpitude” classification. A steady stream of immigrants also faces deportation out of the United States after arrest for minor drug charges and other misdemeanor offenses.
The list of crimes considered aggravated felonies for immigration purposes is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act. These crimes represent some of the worst acts a person can commit and include murder, rape, drug tracking and major firearms violations.
Moral turpitude offenses
Crimes of moral turpitude include acts that breach trust between the immigrant and other citizens. Crimes that involve theft or other dishonest behavior can trigger deportation action based on issues of moral turpitude. These crimes can include both felonies and misdemeanors. Other examples of “minor crimes” that can become a moral turpitude issue include embezzlement, shoplifting, fraud and perjury.
Immigrants who are interested in an exhaustive list of criminal offenses that can lead to deportation should check with the INA. Interested parties should know that crimes involving any form of spousal or child abuse are likely to cause problems with immigration officials.
Individuals accused of a criminal offense may face the double trouble of dealing with immigration after learning of the court’s disposition in their case. Immigrants accused of criminal behavior may be better able to defend their position in both arenas by speaking with an immigration attorney.