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Aggravated felony

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An aggravated felony includes, but is not limited to, crimes of violence and other offenses that are punishable by imprisonment for at least five years. Non-citizens who commit aggravated felonies in the United States may be subject to deportation pursuant to U.S. immigration law.

Contents

Overview

An aggravated felony has implications in criminal law and immigration law. The definition and scope of an aggravated felony has evolved through the years. In June 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified the threshold for considering a drug offense an aggravated felony, meriting automatic deportation, in Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder.

Aggravated Felony in Immigration Law

The immigration law of the United States falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Currently, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 ("INA")[1] governs U.S. immigration law.[2] The INA and its federal regulations govern a range of immigration areas including the following:

  • Who is an immigrant and who is a citizen;
  • Who can enter the country from abroad;
  • Who must have a visa to enter the country;
  • How visas are defined and administered;
  • Which immigrants can be removed (deported) from the country.

Aggravated felonies were first included in immigration law under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 ("ADAA"). Initially, a separate basis for deportation was enumerated for serious crimes such as murder, drug trafficking or illegal trafficking of firearms or destructive devices.[3]

Definition of Aggravated Felony Broadens

Subsequently, the definition for aggravated felonies has broadened to include offenses outside the confines of a felony. Examples of these include:

  • a crime of violence for which the term of imprisonment is at least 1 year;
  • a theft offense (including receipt of stolen property) or burglary offense for which the terms of imprisonment is at least one year;
  • illicit trafficking in drugs, firearms, destructive devices, or explosive materials;
  • an offense that involves fraud or deceit in which the loss to the victim or victims exceeds $10,000;
  • offenses related to alien smuggling (though some exceptions apply); and
  • murder, rape or sexual abuse of a minor.[4]

Legal Repercussions of Aggravated Felonies

A conviction of an aggravated felony, not only jeopardizes the non-citizen's ability to attain citizenship, but also results in grounds for deportation.

Examples of such consequences are:

  • ineligibility to stop deportation;
  • inability to apply for other legal immigration status;
  • guaranteed detention;
  • less access to immigration court;
  • less access to federal appeals courts; and
  • permanent ejection from the U.S.[5]

References

  1. http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/8
  2. http://immigration.findlaw.com/immigration/immigration-overview/immigration-overview-laws.html
  3. http://library.findlaw.com/1999/Jun/1/126967.html
  4. http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/155/
  5. http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/155/

External Links

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