If you are an immigrant to this country, you may not be aware that the consequence of being convicted of a misdemeanor can be potential deportation. The immigration officials at Homeland Security may treat misdemeanor charges against immigrants as aggravated felonies and a conviction then subjects the immigrant defendant to deportation. Additionally, sometimes the immigrant defendant, in a state court, is placed on probation for a period of time and that can also result in deportation.
This can happen as a result of one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated on the United States Congress by a lobbying group. The group were owners of ”day prisons” which are houses for immigrants awaiting deportation. Day prison owners are paid by the US Government for each day the immigrant is housed while awaiting deportation.
The day prison owners lobbied the US Congress for passage of the “aggravated felony bill” the alleged purpose for which was to remove felons from this country so that they could not commit additional crimes. The motivation of the day prison owner lobbyists, however, was actually to increase the need for their services and therefore, reward them financially. Unfortunately, for this bill to be operational, the federal immigration officials would need to establish a method to redefine misdemeanor cases as “aggravated felonies.”
Part of the problem faced by immigration officials was a lack of uniformity among many states in the US when it came to classifying a specific crime as a misdemeanor or a felony. Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that in Alabama, grand theft auto is treated as a misdemeanor but in Maryland, it is treated as a felony. The immigration officials needed to devise a method for determining whether a misdemeanor case in one state rose to the level of a felony in another state. They did so by developing a code of regulations which directed how the aggravated felony law would be applied.
This new code of regulations treated the crime held to be a misdemeanor at the state level as an aggravated felony at the federal level, a conviction of which could mean deportation of the immigrant defendant. When the immigrant was convicted in a state court of a misdemeanor and was then placed on probation (not sent to jail), for one year and a day, the immigration officials treated the defendant as if he had committed an aggravated felony. This horrible outcome would occur even though the case was considered a misdemeanor by the state in which the crime was committed.
Congressional members, when voting to pass the aggravated felony bill, had no idea that the bill was unjust. Unfortunately, many unsuspecting immigrants have been deported because they have not been adequately advised or have received poor treatment in the system.
As your criminal defense attorney located in Columbia, Maryland, we can assist you by defending you against misdemeanor charges in the criminal courts of the State of Maryland. Call us at 410-730-4404.