Pop star Justin Bieber made headlines recently after being charged in a Florida court on suspicion of drunk driving, driving without a valid license, and resisting arrest. A California prosecutor is determining whether or not to press additional felony vandalism charges against the singer, who is suspected of having egged a house, causing significant damage.
Bieber is a Canadian citizen. Since news of his arrest reached national networks, calls for his deportation have increased, including a petition with more than 100,000 signatures submitted to the White House. Will the pop star face deportation if he is convicted? It’s possible but not likely.
Neither a conviction for drunk driving nor a conviction for vandalism would lead to deportation in most situations. This includes situations in which the accused person, like Justin Bieber, has a visa allowing him or her to stay in the United States legally. Typically, in order to trigger a deportation, a criminal conviction must involve an aggravated felony or a “crime of moral turpitude.”
However, if it is proven that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (via trial or plea bargain) that he violated the State’s drug laws, he could be deported and at future dates be inadmissible to the U.S. For instance, if it was found he violated “any” drug law of the State or the U.S. drug laws, that can result in deportation. This means, cocaine, heroin, even abuse of prescription drugs if he was in possession of a scheduled narcotic without a prescription. Most drug offenses are not only deportable, if the person is not a Permanent Resident, it is likely there is not even a waiver for the drug offense (meaning it could ban this person for life potentially from reentering the U.S.). There is an exception to drug possession if it is Possession of Marijuana less than 2 ounces.
It must be noted: It must be a criminal conviction in order to be counted against the non-U.S. Citizen. An arrest is merely an accusation, and is insufficient to trigger deportation and inadmissibility consequences. However, under the Immigration and Nationality Act an admission of drug use by an immigrant to USCIS or a court, may potentially be enough to trigger inadmissibility (INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i) states anyone “convicted of, or who admits having committed, or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of…”).
Because immigration law is complex, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney if a criminal charge might affect your ability to stay in the United States legally. The attorneys at Peek & Toland, L.L.P. have experience in both Texas and Federal criminal law and in Federal Immigration law. Call us at (512) 474-4445 for a confidential consultation.