Immigration Consequences of Shoplifting
Over the years, the New Jersey shoplifting attorneys at Proetta & Oliver have defended countless clients against shoplifting crimes including hundreds of clients who are not U.S. citizens. The fear of a criminal conviction or incarceration for shoplifting is always a major concern for our clients, but for those clients who are not U.S. citizens it is particularly concerning because it can be looked at very harshly by immigration and ultimately result in a person having to leave our country. In any case where our client is not a U.S. citizen we always recommend that they consult with an immigration attorney to make sure they are well aware of their options and possible consequences before we moved forward on the criminal case. In those situations, we will often work hand in hand with the immigration attorney to make sure everyone is on the same page and everything is being done for the client’s benefit on both ends of the spectrum. If you or loved one has been charged with a crime of shoplifting under 2C:20-11(b) and there are potential immigration consequences, it is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Our law firm offers free consultations for prospective clients which are confidential so you can expect to have your privacy protected.
Will I get Deported If I am Convicted of Shoplifting?
Yes, unfortunately there is the very real possibility that a conviction of shoplifting could result in your deportation from the United States based on a removal action by ICE or by default if you cannot have your visa or green card renewed. This is because a crime of shoplifting is considered Crime Involving Moral Turpitude, commonly referred to as a “CIMT”, and our government considers these to be deportable offenses. That is why our shoplifting lawyers fight these charges so vigorously for each of our clients in order to prevent a situation like the one mentioned above. There several things that may be able to be done, depending on the circumstances of your case, in order to prevent serious immigration consequences.
Ways to Avoid Immigration Consequences from Shoplifting
- Dismissal of Shoplifting Charge – Of course an outright dismissal of the shoplifting charge is always the best possible outcome. This often depends on the evidence and whether the prosecutor and loss prevention officer can prove the charges against you.
- Plea to Ordinance for Shoplifting – The second best result is typically having your criminal charge of shoplifting under 2C:20-11(b) downgraded and amended to a local township ordinance that does not result in a criminal conviction. If at all possible, you should try to not admit to the actual act of shoplifting or theft during your plea.
- Conditional Dismissal – If a dismissal or ordinance cannot be worked out, then the next step would be to try and secure a conditional dismissal. This is a program that allows for the charge to be dismissed against you after 12 months with no new arrests. However, the problem is that it normally requires that you admit to wrongdoing and plead guilty on the record even though the actual conviction is not entered against you. This can still cause problems with immigration even though it does not result in a conviction of shoplifting. This is why, if at all possible, we try to have the charges amended to a lesser serious criminal charge such as disorderly conduct under 2C:33-2a which is not considered a CIMT.
- Pleas to a lesser charge – This is normally the best possible outcome if the defendant has a prior record and is not eligible for a conditional dismissal or Pre-Trial Intervention.
Additional Immigration Resources for Shoplifting Defendants
For additional information on the potential immigration consequences for a shoplifting conviction then feel free to visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “ICE” website. This government website is an incredible resource that can provide a wealth of information including up-to-date statistics, immigration reformation, and removal proceedings and statistics.