All individuals in the USA have the right to a defence attorney if they are accused of any offense. This is equally true for non citizens as it is for US citizens. But the situation becomes very important in the case of non citizens as their conviction on any misdemeanour or felony could result in their residency status being reviewed, withdrawn and them being deported.
The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 is the basis for the current rules and regulations regarding immigration status although there have been numerous amendments and another amendment is currently under review in congress. A bedrock of this legislation is that once one is a citizen then one is no longer subject to its provisions. Even if you have become a naturalised citizen and the ink is still wet on the oath you signed you are a citizen and exempt from being prosecuted and deported.
But this is not the case for any non citizen, no matter how long they have lived in the US and how far along the path to citizenship they are. Green card holders can easily be forced off this path, deported from the US and the consequences of that for them and their families can be dire.
There are no specific lists of crimes which make one deportable. Rather there are a number of broad categories of offenses that may lead to deportation.
The first of these are offenses under immigration law, such as making false declarations. There are a number of provisions with regard to US national security and any connection to terrorism or terrorist groups would make one immediately deportable. Then there are criminal violations.
The United States regards any criminal activity as making one ineligible for citizenship. But it is not straightforward and there are many arguments to be made as regards to what constitutes ‘Moral turpitude’ and ‘aggravated felonies’ for example. A conviction in relation to controlled substances is a deportable offense so is an area that would be immigrants should be very careful to avoid.
The convictions on ‘Moral turpitude’ are ill defined in law and so require interpretation of court findings. These are generally offenses involving dishonesty, violence or immorality. In addition these crimes have to have been committed within 5 years of arriving in the US and have involved a potential custodial sentence of over a year.
‘Aggravated Felonies’ were initially chosen in regard to the anti drug laws and were aimed at fighting narcotics trafficking. However in the act it very specifically states Murder, drug trafficking and illegal firearm and explosives sales. This definition has been expanded to include many misdemeanours (Crimes of a lesser magnitude) .
If you are an immigrant and green card holder who has been accused of any crime beyond and infringement (speeding and parking violations for example) you will be well advised to consult a Criminal Lawyer in Los Angeles who can Fashion your defense. Any infringement of your basic rights should involve a consultation with a Immigration Lawyer in Los Angeles for consultation to defend your immigration status.