What is a Conviction under the Immigration Nationality Act?

Some things work differently in the Immigration World. A very good example of that is the definition of conviction, which in general exists under the Immigration Nationality Act as an action where there has been a formal judgment of guilt entered by a court. 

A conviction or arrest for a disqualifying violation is required for most criminal offenses that do not need a determination of good moral character. A conviction, for immigration purposes, occurs when the decision of guilt is withheld if the following conditions are met: 

  • A judge or jury has found the individual guilty, or the person has submitted a guilty or nolo contendere (a plea of no contest), or has conceded enough facts to sustain a guilty finding. 
  • The judge has imposed a penalty, a punishment, or a restriction on the person’s liberty. 

It’s not always clear whether someone has been arrested and convicted of a crime. Several states have legislations in place to reduce the severity of a conviction. If a finding or confession of guilt is made, adjudication may be postponed in several states. Pre-trial diversion programs exist in some states to keep cases out of the criminal court system, and this allows the person to enter a therapy or treatment program to avoid facing criminal charges. 

If the accused is ordered to enter a pre-trial diversion or intervention program where no admission or judgment of guilt is required, the order may not count as a conviction for immigration purposes. 

At the J. Molina Law Firm, we examine all our clients’ facts and situations and make the strongest possible arguments in their defense. We can also assist you in negotiating a plea deal that avoids immigration repercussions. Contact us immediately at (469) 708-5800 or schedule an appointment online to find out what the best course of action is for your situation. We will represent you fervently and with pleasure – call us today!