Immigrants in Tennessee have to act with care to protect their status. Generally, only those who can demonstrate good moral character are eligible to maintain visas, secure green cards or naturalize to become citizens. However, there are so many laws in the United States that immigrants might unintentionally violate the law, especially if they have lived in another state previously. Criminal statutes are vastly different from one jurisdiction to another. This is especially true when it comes to drug laws.
Drug laws in some states have become quite lenient, but Tennessee still has relatively strict rules about prohibited drugs and controlled substances. Do immigrants arrested for Tennessee drug crimes need to worry about their immigration status?
Drug crimes can lead to removal
Although cultural attitudes about drug offenses have shifted in recent years, state and federal laws have not changed that much. Currently, the federal government maintains a lengthy list of offenses that can affect someone’s eligibility for immigration opportunities. Any violations of controlled substances laws can be enough to affect someone’s future eligibility or even lead to their removal from the United States.
There are limited exceptions for those accused only of certain minor possession offenses. More serious possession crimes and offenses related to drug trafficking or manufacturing could very well affect someone’s immigration status and future opportunities.
Preventing a conviction could make a big difference
An immigrant accused of a drug offense might think that pleading guilty shows that they accept accountability for their actions and want to do better in the future. Unfortunately, their guilty plea may trigger a cascade of events that could lead to their removal from the country eventually.
Even a pleat to a lesser offense could cause immigration challenges later depending on the nature of the offense and the sentence imposed by the courts. The most effective way to prevent the worst-case scenario is often to defend against pending criminal charges. An immigrant who successfully avoids a criminal conviction usually does not need to worry about an arrest affecting their immigration options.
Learning more about how different crimes may affect immigration options could benefit those recently arrested on allegations of violating domestic laws. Seeking personalized legal guidance is a good way to get started.