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James N. Papirmeister, P.C.

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What is an aggravated felony?

Silver Spring residents may be aware that an arrest and a conviction for any felony is a serious matter and can have far reaching consequences in many aspects of their lives-it affects their career opportunities, personal lives and social lives. What they may not be aware of is that when it comes to certain crimes, known as aggravated felonies, a conviction for a non-citizen immigrant could make it harder to stay in America.

If a non-citizen immigrant is convicted of a felony, they face automatic penalties. These penalties include detention by federal immigration authorities after release from criminal custody. They can be summarily deported from the country without any hearing in front of a judge. IN addition to this, they are ineligible for asylum or excused from deportation due to family hardship. They are then prohibited from ever entering the country again without special permission from the government.

So then what is an aggravated felony that has such far-reaching consequences? Though originally only a handful of serious crimes could be categorized as aggravated felonies, its ambit has increased over time. In 1996, the original definition which only included murder and federal drug or illicit trafficking of some firearms, was expanded to include more than 30 different types of offenses. These range from theft to even filing a false tax return or even something as simple as getting into a bar fight. The confusion arises because under immigration law, the crime is measured by the technical language used, not by the severity of the crime.

People have worked very hard and put a lot of time and effort into becoming a citizen of this country and they may not even be aware that a simple mistake or misstep could end up costing them everything and separating them from their family. If a Silver Spring resident is facing charges of aggravated felony, they may want to consider consulting an experienced attorney to help them defend themselves.

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