The greater Memphis, Tennessee area is home to over 1 million people, many of whom are immmigrants from other countries. There is quite a bit of legal activity in Memphis with regard to immigrants, because of the federal immigration court in downtown Memphis. It is the only immigration court in Tennessee, and also serves residents of Mississippi and Arkansas. If you’re a legal immigrant in Memphis, Tennessee and have been charged with a criminal offense, you’re facing a situation that could severely affect not only your residence in the United States, but your entire future and the future of those close to you. You should immediately consult with a Memphis criminal defense lawyer to discuss your case and what options you have for keeping the charge from becoming a conviction.
Criminal cases in Memphis are heard in the Shelby County Criminal Court building, located at 201 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN, 38103. Other Memphis-area jurisdictions such as Bartlett, Collierville, and Germantown have their own court locations. If you are summoned to appear at the Memphis Immigration Court, you will go to the Clifford Davis Federal Building, also downtown, located at 167 N. Main St. in Memphis.
Under United States immigration laws, committing or admitting to a crime involving moral turpitude can be grounds for deportation or denial of entry. Unfortunately, there is no set definition for “crime involving moral turpitude” in the immigration courts. In fact, the phrase has been somewhat of a mystery to judges, attorneys, and immigrants.
Crimes whose elements contain fraud, larceny, or an intent to harm other people have commonly been found to be crimes of moral turpitude. Violent crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, child abuse, and assault would apply, as well as offenses such as theft, vandalism, burglary, blackmail, and forgery. Additionally, crimes against the government such as counterfeiting, bribery and perjury will trigger the moral turpitude penalties. Drug possession charges may also trigger deportation or a denial of citizenship.
A Memphis permanent resident card holder does not even have to commit one of these crimes. If he or she simply attempts or conspires to commit these offenses, or is an accessory, that also would count as commission of a crime involving moral turpitude.
Another category of offenses–aggravated felonies–are extremely serious and can lead to certain deportation. Aggravated felonies, like crimes involving moral turpitude, have no set definition and seem to vary from case to case. Even crimes that would not defined as felonies under the law of the state in which they were committed can be considered aggravated felonies in the world of immigration law. Some common examples include drug and weapons trafficking, prostitution, child pornography, and sex crimes. If you have been charged with what you believe is a crime involving moral turpitude or an aggravated felony, contact a Memphis immigration criminal defense lawyer immediately.
There are some exceptions to the strict and confusing laws regarding crimes committed by immigrants. There is what’s known as the petty offense exception, which states that if the maximum penalty for the crime is less than one year, and if the individual was sentenced to less than six months in prison, and that crime is his or her first and only offense, he or she will not be barred from receiving a visa, green card, or citizenship.
Juvenile crimes involving moral turpitude are also an exception. If the applicant was under 18 when the offense was committed, and if it was committed more than five years prior to the application, he or she will not be barred from receiving a visa, green card, or citizenship. No matter what the offense, though, if you are visa or green card holder in the Memphis area you should contact a Memphis criminal attorney to discuss your case.