If you are a lawful permanent resident in the U.S., a refugee, or a visa-carrying student or employee, being caught with an illegal firearm has severe consequences, including potentially being deported. If you are facing illegal firearms charges, you could incur the following serious penalties:
In most cases, an illegal firearms conviction will put an immigrant at the risk of deportation. However, you must go through removal proceedings first, wherein Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have the burden of proof.
They must be able to show that either your crime was deportable, or that it was considered a crime of moral turpitude. If ICE cannot bring sufficient evidence for your removal, you will likely be sentenced to time in a United States jail, similar to the penalties that American convicts face.
Being Charged With an Aggravated Felony
If you are not eligible for deportation, you will go through criminal court in the U.S. You may be charged with an armed or aggravated felony instead of a basic felony and will likely face harsher punishment. For example, if you stole someone’s car but did so by using the threat of a deadly weapon, your sentencing is likely to be heavier than if you were simply charged with grand theft auto.
Being Barred From Seeking Relief
Being caught in possession of a firearm as an illegal immigrant or a refugee may cause you to become ineligible to apply for immigration relief. Your asylum application may be denied or you may not be able to apply for a residency card. Unfortunately, this may still be the case, even in situations where you are exonerated for other crimes.
When to Contact a Texas Immigration Lawyer
If you are a U.S. immigrant and have been charged with a crime, your and your family’s future is on the line. It’s important that you don’t wait to contact someone with the legal expertise you need to navigate complex immigration matters. The sooner you take action, the sooner you can begin building a strong, compelling defense.
Texas immigration attorney Eluid Zavala has the skills and experience needed to zealously defend immigrants who are facing criminal charges. He also assists immigrants with immigration and visa applications. Call our office now at 713-766-6720 to set up an appointment to discuss your legal options and what the best next step is for you and your family.