Immigrants who recently arrived to the United States from another country and here on a visa should always keep in mind the impact on their status when being charged with a crime. It’s often difficult for someone in the country on a student or work visa to build a life in America. Things can become more difficult when charged with a crime of moral turpitude or CMT.
It might not seem like a big deal to shoplift or steal, especially small or inexpensive items, but shoplifting can be a serious offense with profound consequences, including deportation and removal. The temptation is real and both citizens and immigrants alike have been charged with shoplifting.
What is Shoplifting?
Shoplifting in New Jersey covers more than just taking something from a store without paying for it. It involves actions that allow for others to shoplift, like acting as a lookout, as well as other similar frauds, like changing or manipulating price tags or pretending to return an item that was never originally bought. The consequences can be steep, and often include jail time and/or fines.
As security technology improves, more and more shoplifters are being caught and charged. Even if those who make it out of the store with merchandise can be caught on a camera in the parking lot and arrested days later.
What Can Happen to Me if I Shoplift?
In New Jersey, shoplifting counts as a crime of moral turpitude. This is a fancy way of saying that the crime violates the standards of morality expected of people in a community or society. Because shoplifters are taking something that does not belong to them, the court and the law sees the act of shoplifting as a morally offensive act, and classifies it as such. This can hurt job prospects or other things. But for immigrants living in the United States there are other consequences to consider.
Can I be Deported for Shoplifting?
Depending on the circumstances, yes! There are many factors that can influence this, which means immigrants charged with shoplifting in New Jersey should consult a lawyer familiar with criminal and immigration law. Some of those factors include whether or not the crime was committed five years after admission to the U.S. Because of all the variables involved it is important to contact someone familiar with the legal system and who knows the best strategies to avoid the worst outcomes.
In addition, a crime of moral turpitude can also make one ineligible to be admitted into the United States later on, whether applying for a visa or seeking a change of status to a permanent resident.
What if I am an Undocumented Immigrant?
An immigrant who does not have legal status urgently needs an attorney to help them resolve a shoplifting charge, particularly if the charge is a felony-level offense. A felony conviction can trigger action by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and result in being put in removal proceedings. The attorney can reach out to the prosecutors and negotiate a reduction of the charges to a disorderly persons offense or municipal violation. This can significantly reduce the chances of making the undocumented person a priority removal.
Contact a Lawyer Today
If you have been charged with shoplifting and are an immigrant, it is vital that you get in contact with a qualified legal professional today. The attorneys at the Rosenblum Law Firm have experience with criminal law and its implications for immigration status. Rosenblum Law can help you navigate the confusing legal process and provide you with assistance. Email the Rosenblum Law Firm or call 888-815-3649 today for a free consultation about your case.