No one wants to be involved in a case of domestic violence, but sometimes people say and do things that they later live to regret. Unfortunately, if you are a green card holder, or a non-immigrant (temporary) visa holder, this could mean more than a mandatory hold by your local police. A charge for domestic violence could make you subject to losing your ability to stay in this country. If convicted you could face deportation. Exactly what constitutes domestic violence? The charge constitutes slightly more than most people think. Here are a few things you may want to know.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence?
Each year more than 10 million people are physically abused by someone they have an intimate relationship with. All of these people are victims of domestic violence, but unfortunately these numbers are probably only a tip of the iceberg. Many cases of domestic violence go unreported.
Domestic violence is much more than physical abuse. The abuse can be:
It is defined by 18 U.S. Code Section 16, as "an offense that has an element of use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against another person or the person's property or . . . involves a substantial risk that physical force may be used." It is a pattern of behavior that takes place in a domestic situation by a member of the relationship. Although females are largely the victims of this abuse, males are not immune, and it can take place in homosexual, as well as heterosexual relationships.
Domestic violence can often be a part of a cycle of abuse in which acts of violence are followed by remorseful moments, reconciliation and calm. It can range in severity from forceful coercion to various other forms that can end in severe disfigurement or death.
Federal protections against domestic violence were established in 1994, when President Bill Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA). This act has been challenged and championed throughout the years with the last re-authorization taking place in 2013. In addition to these federal protections, all states have laws addressing this behavior.
Why Can You Be Deported?
If you are charged, and subsequently found guilty of domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, child abandonment, or child neglect, you can be deported under Section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.). You can also be deported if you are found to be in violation of any order of protection that may have been issued as a result of a domestic violence case. It does not matter how long you have been in the country, or your green card or visa status.
Under immigration laws, domestic violence may be viewed in two separate manners. It may be viewed as:
- A Crime of Moral Turpitude
- An Aggravated Felony
Depending on which one they are viewed as, not only may you face deportation,but also you may be barred from ever re-entering the country.
When you are charged, you will be fingerprinted and these will be sent to the FBI for a criminal background check and then transported to ICE. Even if you do not instantly make their deportation list, you will have a hard time performing any application or action that will require you to be fingerprinted.
What Can You Do?
The best thing you can do is to avoid any type of confrontation which could be viewed as, or result in you being charged with domestic violence. But if you are charged, one of the first people you will want to contact is an immigration attorney. They will work in conjunction with your criminal attorney to ensure that your case is resolved in a manner to help you stay in the country.