If you are not a United States citizen but hold permanent resident status, a criminal conviction presents special complications. In any of the following circumstances, for example, a conviction could render you deportable:
1. Consider a provider convicted of unlawful drug distribution, based upon improper prescribing of a controlled substance. Such a conviction is a “violation relating to a controlled substance.”
2. If the provider billed the Medicare or Medicaid program for the patient encounter that resulted in the writing of the prescription, then the conviction might be for program fraud. In that circumstance, the conviction likely constitutes a “crime involving moral turpitude” (CIMT) if the maximum sentence that could have been imposed is one year or longer.
3. Drug trafficking, and fraud crimes where the total loss is greater than $10,000, are also classified as “aggravated felonies”.
Entry into a deferred prosecution agreement does not automatically solve the “conviction” problem. A deferred prosecution agreement still constitutes a conviction if the defendant in the agreement admits “sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilt.” A plea to a “misdemeanor” does not automatically solve the CIMT problem either. In Indiana and under federal law, the maximum misdemeanor sentence is one year, which triggers CIMT status. However, in Illinois and Ohio, the maximum misdemeanor sentence is less than one year.
While the immigration laws do provide some limited relief for some in these and similar circumstances, there is no substitute for a thorough examination of the immigration consequences of any plea of guilty, well before any decision is made.