Can You Avoid Deportation When Facing DV Charges?

The Aftermath of Domestic Violence

A domestic violence (DV) conviction can hit anyone hard. With fines, protection orders, and incarceration on the list of potential penalties, anyone convicted of domestic violence can expect a significant life change. But non-citizens face an even greater potential penalty: deportation. When it’s your very home and livelihood on the line, jail and fines are the least of your worries. Rather, you face the potential of deportation or inadmissibility, making DV charges dangerously high stakes.

Domestic Violence and Deportation

A domestic violence conviction can render a noncitizen deportable or inadmissible under the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). There is little you can do once you are convicted of a domestic violence conviction to avoid immigration consequences. At the same time, a single conviction of a crime involving domestic violence does not necessarily mean you will be automatically deported. There are numerous other factors that can affect how and win a conviction will affect your immigration status. In fact, there may be ways you can avoid deportation when facing domestic violence charges in California. But your timing is everything, so take the time to learn more about what you can do to preserve your legal status in the US.

How Will a Conviction Affect Noncitizens?

Depending on your charges and many other facts of your case, a conviction may or may not be a deportable offense. Consult with an experienced California criminal defense attorney immediately if you are a noncitizen facing domestic violence charges. Make sure you know the exact charges you are facing to get the most accurate legal advice. California criminal statutes include numerous subtleties of language that give the law some flexibility. This is a good thing, in most cases, as it allows us to apply the law to cases in a way that reflects the individual circumstances. In essence, it helps us use the law, even ones enacted a long time ago, in our present day. But, one significant drawback of this intentional vagueness is those minute differences in meaning from statute to statute mean one or two words can mean the difference between someone being deported or staying in the US. To complicate matters further, the US INA has its own language that gives the government flexibility when dealing with actions against noncitizens. So, in criminal cases in California, there are two sets of laws to navigate: California criminal law and US immigration law.

These sets of laws do not perfectly overlap, which presents many challenges when representing noncitizens facing charges for deportable offenses. Nevertheless, very experienced California criminal defense attorneys know how to “work” the criminal justice system just enough to help noncitizen defendants avoid deportation. For example, an attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to get a plea bargain wherein the defendant pleads guilty to a crime that does not affect his or her immigration status. This is not uncommon. Prosecuting attorneys are sometimes amenable to such proposals, but each case is unique. There are many factors that will influence whether or not this is a possibility for you, such as how long you’ve been in the states, the circumstances of your life, and the facts of your case. Also, it’s important to realize that a plea bargain for a non-domestic violence offense may not necessarily come with an easier sentence. It can, however, prevent your deportation, and that’s the important thing to keep in mind.

With this information in mind, you can begin to see how these cases are not always open and shut. Being arrested for and charged with a deportable offense, such as a domestic violence crime, does not mean your days in the states are numbered. It does mean you need to work with a skilled attorney and be open to defense strategies such as plea bargains. In some cases, plea bargains can be preferable to a trial for noncitizens. The outcome of a plea bargain is known. You are informed of what the conviction will be and what it could entail before you plead guilty to it. In a trial, there is significant uncertainty unless your case is strong, and even then you can’t be sure of the outcome. Consult with a California criminal defense attorney if you are facing DV charges and have your citizenship status at stake. An attorney can help you explore your options and potential defenses so you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.

If you are facing domestic violence charges in the Tulare, Fresno or Kings County area, call experienced criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can help you fight your charges and clear your name. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, attorney Martens is ready to defend your rights.  Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.