Houman Fakhimi

Domestic Violence & Immigration

An arrest for domestic violence in Orange County, Riverside, or surrounding areas is nothing to be taken lightly. But those who are not U.S. citizens have even more reason for concern because these types of arrests and convictions can result in deportation. These are unique legal challenges, but challenges our Southern California domestic violence and immigration attorneys face with our clients every day. Our team of dedicated lawyers at Fakhimi & Associates share an unwavering commitment to fighting for the rights of immigrants who have been accused of domestic violence and other crimes. We have decades of experience and take great pride in our proven record. We know that many of our clients are afraid of what the American legal system means for them and their status. We work to explain their rights and their options. Then, we work together to defend and protect those clients as they move through that same legal system in order to clear their names.

Legal Immigration and Domestic Violence Cases

There is no denying the complexity of these types of cases, but we leave no option unexplored, and we share every possible option with our clients. This is because we know that whatever the end result is in terms of their immigration, domestic violence charges, and their futures, there’s a good chance they also have a family that will be forever changed. Our clients are treated with honesty, dignity, and integrity.

How are Deportable Offenses Defined?

Understanding U.S. immigration laws is overwhelming at best. The truth is that the majority of criminal convictions, and certainly those associated with domestic violence, are deportable offenses. These types of crimes will often trigger some type of action. It matters little how long one has been in the United States, any domestic violence related offense in Orange County, Riverside or the state of California can result in a green card being rescinded or other efforts made to remove a non-citizen via deportation.

Domestic Violence Immigration Issues Not only that, but there are also a number of criminal convictions in California that are considered “inadmissible crimes.” These are offenses for which a conviction will mean refusal of re-entry to the U.S., denial of U.S. citizenship and denial of application for permanent residency or adjustment of status (requesting a change from illegal immigration status to legal immigration status).

Domestic violence, as a crime of moral turpitude, is considered a deportable offense, though it generally will not result in inadmissibility. Unfortunately, what too few accused understand is that by entering a guilty plea or even a plea of solo contender to a domestic violence charge, opens the door to adverse immigration action. That’s why our immigration and domestic violence attorneys work so hard to have these charges reduced or dismissed in their entirety.

Note that it is not necessary for a domestic violence conviction to have been a felony in order to trigger deportation proceedings; misdemeanor domestic violence convictions also qualify for a legal review and potential deportation efforts. As experienced immigration attorneys, we understand the complexity of these cases and have successfully argued on behalf of our clients for years.

What is VAWA?

VAWA is the acronym for the Violence Against Women Act. In short, it means that spouses and children who have been abused by their U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse or parent do not have to rely on that person to help them secure legal status in the U.S. If you have been accused of domestic assault or other immigration issues, those who rely on you have this option.

The law’s been on the books since the mid-1990s, though many are unaware of its existence. The objective of the law is to provide an option for those who feel as though they are obligated to remain with an abuser who holds some degree of power of whether or not they remain in the United States.

For victims working hard to secure a green card, domestic violence does not have to hinder those efforts. It’s a protection that many domestic violence victims in Orange County and Riverside incorporate for themselves and their children.

Qualifying for a green card under this immigration law means meeting all of these requirements:

  • The abuser is now or was in the past a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (LPR). Even if the abuser loses his green card due to immigration issues or domestic violence, victims can still file a VAWA petition.
  • You must be either a spouse or a former spouse OR the parent of a child who was abused by the LPR. Note that a remarriage nulls any outstanding VAWA application.
  • You must be able to prove you were the victim of domestic violence during the marriage. California laws state that the applicant, or petitioner, must be able to prove he or she “has been battered or has been the subject of extreme cruelty” by the LPR or USC.
  • Your marriage must have been made in good faith and not for the reason of securing a green card. You must also have lived with your spouse.
  • You must be residing currently in the United States.
  • Finally, you must be a person of “good moral character” for at least three years. Your good moral character is threatened if you abuse drugs or alcohol, participate in illegal gambling, or lie under oath of bringing harm to others.
Who is Subject to Deportation for Domestic Abuse?

It is the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that established guidelines for situations in which non-citizen U.S. residents may be deported from the country.

The domestic violence deportation proceeding requires a conviction after September 1996 and after one was admitted to the U.S. for the following crimes:

  • A crime of violence committed against a protected person or
  • Stalking or
  • Child abuse, abandonment or neglect

Although domestic violence convictions will generally qualify a person for deportation regardless of whether it is a felony or misdemeanor, or the imposed sentence, it doesn’t necessarily trigger automatic detention, and it shouldn’t bar a person from most types of relief available for many immigration issues.

Domestic Violence Immigration Lawyer In weighing deportation, courts will typically consider:

  • Length of time in country
  • Family and business ties
  • Whether defendant has a dependent child who is a U.S. citizen
  • Whether defendant is a legal or illegal immigrant

Even people who have lived in the U.S. since they were children may face possible deportation for domestic violence convictions, so it’s very important to secure legal representation with a firm that understands the intricacies associated with domestic violence, immigration issues and the ongoing changes in the laws. Contact us today to learn more about these laws and what they might mean for you and your family’s futures.