Your path to legal residency can end with a conviction

If you are in the process of obtaining your green card or United States citizenship papers, being convicted of a felony can derail those aspirations. In some circumstances, you can face harsh penalties even for convictions that aren't felonies.

Aggravated felonies and crimes of moral turpitude are two categories where convictions have severe consequences for those who are not American citizens. As such, one can expect to have deportation proceedings be initiated, and once deported, these individuals generally will not be permitted to come back into the country again.

An aggravated felony sounds really egregious, and in some cases, it is, including crimes like drug trafficking and murder. But Congress has tacked on a laundry list of rather innocuous offenses, that for citizens, would get them little more than a slap on the wrist, including:

-- Having consensual sex between teens who are 16 and 17

-- Simple battery

-- Failing to appear for court

-- Theft

-- Filing fraudulent tax returns

When crimes of moral turpitude are involved, the waters are even murkier, because there is no concise list. The crimes are deemed to be a violation of what is accepted as the community's moral standards, which as one can imagine, can vary greatly by community.

Below are some offenses that have been cited as crimes of moral turpitude in immigration violation cases:

-- Child abuse

-- Perjury

-- Carrying concealed weapons

-- Wire fraud

-- Tax evasion

If you stand accused of an immigration offense, you need a legal advisor who understands the intricacies of the federal court system and immigration laws.

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