The answer to your question will depend on several things. First, it is important to review the statute under which you were charged. For example,crimes of larceny involve moral turpitude. On the other hand, the Board of Immigration Appeals has held that crimes of theft involve moral turpitude only when a permanent taking is intended. Therefore, it is very important to examine the statute or ordinance under which you were charged to determine the nature of the offense and the elements of the criminal statute.
Second, the general rule is that a lawful permanent resident alien who is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude within five years of admission is deportable only if he or she is convicted of a crime for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed.
If the statute does not prescribe a sentence of one year or longer and you have been a lawful permanent resident for five years, the shoplifting conviction will not jeopardize your green card renewal.
Third, generally (not always) retail theft under a certain amount falls within a petty offense exception. The petty offense exception states that an individual will not be deemed inadmissible for one crime involving moral turpitude if the maximum penalty for the offense does not exceed imprisonment for one year, and if convicted of the crime, the individual was not sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than six months. Therefore, it is important to review the penalty section of the charging statute or ordinance to determine whether the violation falls within the petty offense exception.
Finally, you should hire an experienced criminal/immigration lawyer to help you out with charges. Avoid pleas to theft or intent based crimes. Request your attorney to ask for substitution of your charges with an entirely different sort of offense if possible.
We routinely represent alien defendants in criminal matters. You can contact our office to discuss your case or ask for our opinion on immigration consequences of your criminal convictions. We often work with criminal attorneys nation-wide advising them during plea negotiations.
This information is general in nature and does not address specifics of your case. The specifics of your case should be discussed with your immigration attorney before any filings are submitted to the USCIS. This information does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Evita Tolu – Immigration Attorney
Stientjes & Tolu LLC
9378 Olive Blvd., Ste. 325
St. Louis, MO 63132