If people in Maryland are convicted of crimes they can face various punishments depending on the severity of the crime. These punishments can include fines, community service, jail time and other punishments. These are bad enough by themselves, but depending on people’s immigration status being convicted of certain crimes can have even more life changing consequences.
When a crime is considered an “aggravated felony” in immigration court it can force people to go through a removal hearing. Aggravated felonies include many offenses that people may not typically consider to be a felony or aggravated in any way. Sometimes a small theft can be considered an aggravated felony in immigration court.
Being convicted of the crime just simply starts the removal process though. People are entitled to hearings prior to removal and may be able to avoid deportation. However, it is important to know that if people have a prior conviction for an aggravated felony they may lose potential options for relief from the court.
Potential relief for people during the removal process
If the judge in the initial hearing decides to deport it is not the end of the process necessarily. People may still have another chance to remain in the country. They may be able to file a motion alleging new facts that were not presented at the initial hearing.
People may be able to prove that there were conditions in their home country that changed; That their previous conviction was vacated; they are the victim of domestic abuse; their personal circumstances changed that would allow them to stay; new laws now allow them to avoid removal; or they had ineffective counsel at their first hearing. If successful they may avoid deportation.
Being convicted of a crime in Maryland can be scary enough. However, facing the possibility of being deported can be even scarier. It is important to understand the removal process, which is a completely different proceeding than the criminal proceeding. It is also important for people to understand their options for relief to hopefully avoid being deported.