Green card holders living in California are sometimes worried that even minor brushes with the law could lead to their deportation. While some forms of criminal activity can lead to a person being deported, small offenses will rarely have such serious consequences. However, the law in this area is subject to interpretation.
Permanent residents of the United States may face deportation if they are convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude within five years of being issued their green card. Such crimes range from sexual offenses such as rape and prostitution to violent acts like serious aggravated assault and murder. Perjury, larceny and counterfeiting are also considered crimes of moral turpitude. Minor infractions such as public drunkenness, gambling and disorderly conduct will rarely be considered crimes of moral turpitude and are unlikely to result in a permanent resident's deportation.
Green card holders could also face deportation if they are convicted of a crime that could carry a custodial sentence of one year or longer, are convicted of multiple crimes of moral turpitude or have violated drug laws. Being addicted to drugs could also be cited by immigration authorities as a reason to deport a permanent resident. While misdemeanor offenses will not usually result in deportation, immigrants convicted of certain drug trafficking crimes may be considered to have committed an aggravated felony even if they were sentenced to only one year or less in jail.
The fear of deportation can cause great anxiety for permanent residents of the United States, and immigration authorities have been known to be unforgiving of even minor infractions. Experienced immigration attorneys will likely be familiar with these concerns, and they may be able to evaluate the impact that a criminal case could have on a permanent resident's immigration status. Immigration attorneys could also advocate on behalf of green card holders during removal proceedings that may follow a criminal conviction.