New Jersey Criminal Offenses, Aggravated Felonies, and their Impact on Immigration Status

If you are not a United States Citizen and have been charged with committing a crime, it is incumbent upon you and defense counsel to not only consider whether the crime is potentially one involving moral turpitude but also whether the crime could possibly be classified as an Aggravated Felony.  The list of Aggravated Felonies is located at INA 101(a)(43), and anyone potentially impacted by this should consult the Act as well as a qualified immigration attorney.  Among some of the more common aggravated felonies are the following: (Note:  this list is by no means exhaustive or fully descriptive and does not include all of the grounds found in the Act.)

  • Murder, rape, or sexual abuse of a minor
  • Illicit trafficking in a controlled substance
  • Illicit trafficking in firearms or destructive devices or in explosive materials
  • A crime of violence for which the term of imprisonment is at least one year
  • A theft offense (including receipt of stolen property) or burglary offense for which the term of imprisonment is at least one year;
  • Offenses related to child pornography
  • Offenses involving fraud or deceit in which the loss to the victim or victims exceeds $10,000

There are a number of other offenses that are not referenced here that are found in the actual statute.  Generally speaking, the courts look to both applicable federal statutes and analogous state statutes in construing a conviction.  Certainly, in New Jersey, if your case is an Indictable Matter being handled in Superior Court, you must ascertain whether the crime is potentially an aggravated felony; even if your case is in Municipal Court, due diligence must be exercised to ensure that the offense does not encroach upon AF territory.  Be aware that in some instances, federal misdemeanors have and can be classified as aggravated felonies.

Among the many grounds of deportability, a conviction of an aggravated felony is generally considered the harshest because it will in most cases disqualify you from the most common forms of relief including cancellation of removal, 212h and 212i waivers, as well as subject you to mandatory detention.