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Shoplifting and Its Impact On Immigration Status

What is Considered a Crime of Moral Turpitude?

Drug offenses and violent crimes are crimes of moral turpitude (CMT) and can have profoundly negative impacts on an individual’s immigrant status. Even minor crimes such as shoplifting are considered a CMT and can have substantial repercussions for a person seeking to emigrate to the US.

Shoplifting in the United States

The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention reports that more than 10 million people have been caught shoplifting in the last five years. Because an individual’s ability to legally remain in the United States might be shaped by a shoplifting charge, individuals faced with a shoplifting conviction frequently find it essential to retain the services of a skilled immigration attorney.

The Definition of Shoplifting

Many individuals are unaware that shoplifting can include many more types of activities that merely taking something from a store without first paying for the item. Shoplifting charges can also involve acting as a lookout as well as other frauds including manipulating price tags or returning items to a store that were not initially purchased at the store.

Will Shoplifting Affect Immigration?

Shoplifting is often classified as “a crime of moral turpitude”, which is considered by the government to violate the standards of morality that are expected by individuals in a community. Not only can a charge of shoplifting have negative implications for travel or visa applications to the United States, for immigrants currently living in the United States there are also other significant consequences including the following risks: In some situations, individuals can even be deported for shoplifting.

There are many factors that will influence whether an individual will be deported from the United States including:

  • Crimes Committed Within Five Years - Individuals who committed the crime of shoplifting five years after being admitted to the United States are at particular risk of deportation.
  • Aggravated Felonies - Some shoplifting convictions are considered serious enough to be classified as aggravated felonies for immigration purposes, which will likely mean that an individual will have no relief from deportation and likely will never be able to return to the United States.
  • Illegal or Out of Status Individuals - For individuals who entered the United States illegally or are out of status, an arrest for shoplifting will likely bring the individual before the Immigration and Customs Enforcement who can deport an individual in this type of situation even if the individual is not convicted of shoplifting.

Advice for Immigrants Charged with Shoplifting

There are several important pieces of advice that individuals who are charged with shoplifting should remember:

  • A skilled immigration attorney can help individuals understand the consequences of a plea agreement before deciding whether to accept a plea or proceed to trial.
  • Individuals should try to consult with a knowledgeable immigration attorney as soon as possible. During the first meeting with an experienced immigration attorney, individuals should make sure to bring all-important paperwork regarding the offense. This is an area of law where a knowledge of the intricate details of the process and how to work with the authorities can be the key difference between being able to remain in the US and having to leave.

If you’ve found this blog post useful and would like to find out what would work best in your own unique situation, contact The Law Office of Robert J. Maher, P.C. for a complimentary 90-minute consultation. Call (646) 681-1977 today.