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“Aggravated Felony” in Immigration Proceedings

An alien convicted of an “aggravated felony” may face serious immigration consequences as a result of that conviction. An “aggravated felony,” as used in immigration law, is not necessarily a felony, but can also include many misdemeanor crimes as well. It does not have to be a violent crime, although many violent crimes like murder are aggravated felonies. Some crimes are always classified as aggravated felonies, such as rape, human trafficking, child pornography, and kidnapping. Other crimes are generally only classified as aggravated felonies if the alien receives a term of imprisonment of one year or more, such as for theft or forgery. Still other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering, are generally only classified as aggravated felonies if the victim’s losses exceed $10,000.

If an alien has been convicted of a crime that meets the definition of an aggravated felony, they may be subject to removal proceedings, even if they are already a lawful permanent resident (i.e. a “green card” holder). For aliens who are not yet lawful permanent residents, they may be subjected to deportation without ever receiving a hearing in front of an immigration judge. For aliens who are detained prior to their immigration hearings, they may be subject to mandatory detention, which means that they are ineligible for bond and must, in most circumstances, remain detained until their case has been adjudicated.

Conviction of an aggravated felony also makes an alien ineligible for certain types of relief in removal proceedings. For example, an alien who has been convicted of an aggravated felony cannot receive voluntary departure (which, when granted, allows aliens to leave the country voluntarily, rather than to formally deported under a removal order). An alien convicted of an aggravated felony is also ineligible for asylum, cancellation of removal, and certain waivers of inadmissibility. Furthermore, once an alien has been removed due to an aggravated felony conviction, they are permanently inadmissible to the United States unless they are granted a special waiver. Should they return despite being inadmissible, they can be subjected to up to 20 years in prison for their illegal reentry.

If you are interested in learning more about the immigration consequences of an aggravated felony conviction, contact Tanner Law Offices at (717) 731-8114 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.