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While there seems to be a stereotype across the country that assumes immigrants become criminals, studies have shown that immigrants are less likely to be charged with a crime than native-born citizens. The incarceration of immigrants among young adults was also lower than the rates among native citizens. However, there are still many U.S. policies in place that criminalize the immigrant population. So what happens when these immigrants are charged criminally?

Measuring Criminality

Much of the controversy and complexity of the issue of immigration comes from the changing definition of “criminal alien.” The term broadly applies to noncitizens who commit crimes and usually carries legal implications. The desire to prevent the admission of criminals into the country has resulted in these policies and changing definitions and standards. 

However, it is difficult to measure and define criminality of immigrants due to the nature of immigration; illegal immigrants may withhold true information about where they are from out of fear of deportation, or may not even be found during a U.S. Census. Therefore, if someone has made it into the country without having contact with officials, they won’t be found in official databases. Because information and statistics are not accurate, there seems to be a focus on immigrants who have come in contact with the federal government, namely criminal charges and incarceration.

What happens when a noncitizen is charged with a crime? 

When non-U.S. citizens are charged with a crime, they may face difficulties in finding representation. These individuals need a criminal defense lawyer who understands the potential immigration consequences of a criminal conviction. Being charged with a crime can significantly affect immigration status. 

Immigrants who have even small brushes with the criminal justice system can be subject to extended detention, deportation, or be banned from returning to the country. Because of these strict and serious consequences, a noncitizen who is charged with a crime should be informed about all of their options: going to trial, accepting a plea bargain, or rehabilitative measures. 

Finding a Lawyer for Criminal Cases involving Immigration

Because immigration law can be difficult to navigate, these cases are often very complex. At Esplin Weight, we have experienced criminal defense and immigration lawyers who are capable of representing immigrants in such criminal cases. We strive to preserve rights to citizenship as much as possible in these criminal cases. We even offer free initial consultations, so contact us if you are a noncitizen who has been charged with a crime.