Does a DUI Trigger Deportation?
Many Californians are not full U.S. citizens. Those without full U.S. citizenship status can be deported if convicted of certain criminal offenses in California or elsewhere. Crimes that typically trigger deportation under the Immigration and Nationality Act include:
- Crimes of moral turpitude
- Controlled substance offenses/drug addiction
- Aggravated felonies
- Firearm offenses
- Domestic violence offenses or crimes against children
- Crimes such as espionage, sabotage, or treason
A DUI can happen to anyone. DUIs are among the most common crimes in California and are often the consequences of an innocent mistake. In most cases, a DUI alone is not enough to trigger deportation or change your status to inadmissible, unless it involves one of the above offenses. If someone without full citizenship status got a DUI, he or she would face the same penalties a U.S. citizen would, but wouldn't necessarily face deportation. You could be deported after getting a DUI, however, if any of the following scenarios were true:
- Your DUI was charged as an aggravated felony
A DUI can be an aggravated felony if you injured or killed somebody in the act and received a prison sentence. It should be noted, however, that you couldn't be charged with an aggravated felony if you accidentally or negligently injured or killed someone while driving under the influence. You must have had specific intent to injure or kill someone or damage his or her property.
- Your DUI involved a controlled substance offense instead of or in addition to alcohol
If you were impaired by drugs at the time you got your DUI and the drug impairment was specifically listed as part of your offense, your status in the U.S. could be affected.
- Your DUI involved a crime of moral turpitude
If you had a specific intent to cause someone harm while driving under the influence, you could be charged with what is considered a crime of moral turpitude. For example, you could face deportation if you specifically set out to assault or kill someone with your car and you were driving under the influence.
- Your DUI is evidence of a drug or alcohol abuse or addiction
Getting a DUI alone is not enough to establish a drug or alcohol abuse problem. Serial DUIs, however, could demonstrate that you have a substance abuse problem. Thus, multiple DUIs coupled with other pieces of evidence that you have a problem, such as non-compliance with drug or alcohol treatment could trigger deportation.
When Your Status Is at Stake
If you are facing DUI charges and are worried about deportation, speak with an experienced California attorney. U.S. immigration law is complex, and how your specific crime is charged can affect your status. Similarly, your current status in the U.S. will determine how a criminal conviction, DUIs included, will affect you. Even if you are not deported, your status could be affected by a conviction. For example, you could be deemed inadmissible and may not be able to come back into the U.S. if you left. If you are undergoing the application process for naturalization, a criminal conviction could result in your application being denied. In some cases, your general moral character and contributions to society will be factors considered when your status application is under review, and any criminal conviction at all can put you at a disadvantage. This is one reason why it is so important to speak with a criminal defense attorney about your criminal charges. Fighting a DUI is the best way to ensure your status and your ability to live and work in the U.S. is not affected. Speak with an attorney about your options today.
Do you have questions about DUIs and deportation? Visalia area criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens can assist you with fighting your charges. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Mr. Martens has handled thousands of cases and has taken over 50 to trial. Attorney Christopher Martens has the skills and knowledge needed to defend your rights. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide expert criminal defense counsel. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.