Immigration Consequences of a Criminal Conviction in Ohio

Understanding the intersection between criminal law and immigration status is vital for those who aren’t citizens and are facing criminal charges. In Ohio – and throughout the United States – a criminal conviction can have severe repercussions on your immigration status. 

Understanding these potential consequences and what to do if you find yourself facing criminal charges can help you navigate legal decisions with more clarity. It will also give you the best chance at protecting your rights. 

Potential Immigration Consequences After a Conviction

Potential Immigration Consequences After a Conviction

The following are some possible ramifications a non-citizen might face if they are convicted of a crime in Ohio:


Deportation, also referred to as removal, is a legal action taken by the United States government that requires a non-citizen to leave the country. This can occur when certain laws have been violated. Specifically, it’s triggered when an individual commits and is convicted of what’s known as crimes of moral turpitude or an aggravated felony.

These are typically crimes related to a person’s moral character – like fraud or even drug crimes – and crimes of violence. 

Ineligibility for Naturalization

Naturalization refers to the process of a non-citizen becoming a U.S. citizen. However, if you’ve been convicted of certain crimes, this can render you ineligible to undergo this process successfully.

One significant component of the naturalization application is demonstrating “good moral character.” Having certain criminal convictions could make it challenging or even impossible for officials to deem that standard as being met.

Denial of Reentry

Criminal convictions may become roadblocks when seeking reentry into the United States after traveling abroad. A prior conviction can lead to denial at ports of entry, making it critical to understand the laws and your rights before leaving the country.

Loss of Asylum or Refugee Status

Having a criminal conviction on your record can potentially threaten your asylum or refugee status. The purpose of these designations is to offer protection, and if you commit certain crimes, it may be seen as an abuse of this privilege. This could lead to devastating consequences where you are forced to return to the unsafe conditions you were fleeing from.

Denial of Green Card Renewal

If you are a permanent lawful resident, a criminal conviction could disrupt the renewal process. A green card is not permanent, as it has to be renewed – just like a driver’s license. If you’ve committed certain crimes during the period of time before your renewal, the application process could be affected.

For example, if you’re convicted of domestic violence or drug crimes, you may not be able to renew it.

Impact on Family-Based Immigration

A criminal conviction doesn’t just affect your residency or potential citizenship; it can also jeopardize the immigration efforts of family members you intend to sponsor. If you’re a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident, sponsorship applications could be denied due to certain types of past convictions.

Mandatory Detention

For non-citizens in the United States, certain criminal convictions could lead to mandatory detention while you await removal proceedings. Unlike regular incarceration, where you might be eligible to post bail and be released while waiting for your trial, mandatory detention means you would be detained by immigration authorities without an opportunity to be released. 

Understanding the potential immigration consequences of a criminal conviction is essential to protecting your future and your freedom.

If you’re a non-citizen defendant facing criminal charges in Ohio, crafting an effective legal strategy becomes essential to try to minimize possible immigration consequences. The following are some strategies your lawyer may use:

Plea Bargaining and Reduced Charges

Negotiating plea agreements can be incredibly helpful for mitigating potential immigration consequences. Certain crimes are almost guaranteed to lead to immigration issues, while others are seen as less serious and may have no effect on your status. 

For that reason, it matters what you are convicted of or what you plead guilty to. The goal is often to have a felony reduced to a misdemeanor or a summary offense, for example.

By working with an attorney familiar with both immigration law and criminal law, you could arrive at plea bargains that might reduce charges to offenses that carry less severe immigration consequences.

Alternative Sentencing

Alternative sentencing, such as diversion programs or conditional discharges, could result in no criminal conviction on your record. The use of these alternatives can prevent triggering removal proceedings or other consequences. 

Fighting Your Charges at Trial

Choosing to fight your charges at trial is always an option. With the assistance of an experienced defense attorney, you have the opportunity to present evidence that contradicts a prosecutor’s claims and shows your innocence.

A Dayton Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You Mitigate Immigration Consequences

In the face of criminal charges as a non-citizen, employing strategic legal defenses to shield you from potential immigration consequences becomes absolutely essential. 

If you’re a non-citizen facing a criminal charge in Ohio, the potential consequences go beyond jail time or financial penalties. If you need help, let us build an effective defense strategy tailored to preserve your rights. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a Dayton criminal defense attorney

It is always in your best interest to seek legal counsel before you agree to a plea deal. Contact a criminal defense attorney in Dayton, OH for a free consultation (937) 531-0435.