Several years ago, Congress amended the Immigration law to include a conviction for domestic violence as ground of deportability. A felony conviction for domestic violence can serve as a basis for deportation even if no jail time was imposed or actually served. 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(E)(i). A misdemeanor domestic violence conviction is not necessarily a “crime of violence” for deportation purposes, unless the “offense has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another.”
In Flores v. Ashcroft the Seventh Circuit held that a respondent convicted under the Indiana Battery statute was not deportable for a crime involving domestic violence because there was not a substantial risk that the offense involved the use of force. November 26, 2003, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 24051
Sec. 12-3.2 Domestic Battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.2) (from Ch. 38, par. 12-3.2)
(a) A person commits domestic battery if he intentionally or knowingly without legal justification by any means:
(1) Causes bodily harm to any family or household member as defined in subsection (3) of Section 112A-3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963, as amended;
(2) Makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with any family or household member as defined in subsection (3) of Section 112A-3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963, as amended.
(b) Sentence. Domestic battery is a Class A Misdemeanor. Domestic battery is a Class 4 felony if the defendant has any prior conviction under this Code for domestic battery
Sec. 12-3.3 Aggravated domestic battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.3)
(a) A person who, in committing a domestic battery, intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, or permanent disability or disfigurement commits aggravated domestic battery.
(b) Sentence. Aggravated domestic battery is a Class 2 felony. Any order of probation or conditional discharge entered following a conviction for an offense under this Section must include, in addition to any other condition of probation or conditional discharge, a condition that the offender serve a mandatory term of imprisonment of not less than 60 consecutive days. A person convicted of a second or subsequent violation of this Section must be sentenced to a mandatory term of imprisonment of not less than 3 years and not more than 7 years or an extended term of imprisonment of not less than 7 years and not more than 14 years. (Source: P.A. 91445, eff. 1‑1‑00.)
In Flores v. Ashcroft the Seventh Circuit held that a respondent convicted under the Indiana Battery statute was not deportable for a crime involving domestic violence because there was not a substantial risk that the offense involved the use of force. November 26, 2003. http://callyourlawyers.com/pdfcaselaw/flores_v_ashcroft_7th.pdf
The term “conviction” under Immigration law: * * * The term “conviction” means with respect to an alien, a formal judgment of guilt of the alien entered by a court or, if adjudication of guilt has been withheld, where (i) a judge or jury has found the alien guilty or the alien has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or has admitted sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilt, and (ii) the judge has ordered some form of punishment, penalty, or restraint on the alien’s liberty to be imposed. * * * (8 U.S.C. 101(a)(48)(A)
Whether an aggravated felony or crime of moral turpitude, it is important to note that it is the “conviction” that counts. Dismissals, acquittals, adjudications (juvenile convictions) or no-paper charges do not count for immigration purposes. However, pleading guilty or even admitting to the facts supporting the elements of the offense may be considered as a conviction, even if the crimminal law does not recognize the conviction until the time a sentence has been entered (Judgment and Commitment Order). Sentences containing fines or probation constitute a conviction for immigration purposes. A deferred sentence counts only when there has been an admission of the facts beforehand. Convictions that are later set aside or expunged count as convictions if there has been an admission of the facts. In determining the length of the sentence, immigration authorities look to the term of the actual sentence, and not to the time that the offender is exposed to by statute.
Probationary sentences will trigger immigration consequenses if a term of incarceration is imposed but suspended. Probation will not trigger immigration consequences if the judge opts not to impose a sentence at all (known as an imposition of the sentence suspended, or an ISS sentence). In the case of an ISS sentence, if the candidate successfully completes probation, there are no immigration consequences because an actual sentence was never imposed. However, immigration consequences are triggered if the offender’s probation is ever revoked, as the court will impose a sentence at the time of revocation. Thus, for immigration purposes it always best to request an ISS sentence for a probationary candidate.
Crimes of Moral Turpitude. Any alien who – (I) is convicted of a crime involving “moral turpitude” committed within five years (or 10 years in the case of an alien provided lawful permanent resident status under section 1255(j) of this title) after the date of admission, and (II) is convicted of a crime for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed, is deportable.
Multiple Criminal Convictions. Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude, not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct, regardless of whether confined therefore and regardless of whether the convictions were in a single trial, is deportable.
Felony aggravated domestic battery is a “crime involving moral turpitude” (CIMT), an aggravated felony (only if one year of jail or more is actually imposed), and constitutes a domestic violence ground for deportation.
A felony aggravated battery conviction would be enough for ICE to charge as CIMT within 10 years of non citizen obtaining green card and/or as Agg. Felon/crime of violence if jail sentence imposed was more than one year.
Aggravated Felony: Any alien who is convicted of an aggravated felony (Sec.1101(a)(43) at any time after admission is deportable. (worst provision; no bail or relief) (f) a crime of violence (as defined in section 16 of title 18, but not including a purely political offense) for which the term of imprisonment is at least one year; A “crime of violence” under § 16(b) has two elements: (1) that the crime is a felony; and (2) that the crime, “by its nature,” involves a substantial risk that physical force may be used. Under federal law, a crime is a “felony” if the maximum term of imprisonment authorized for the offense is “more than 1 year.” See 18 U.S.C. § 3559(a) (Q) an offense relating to a failure to appear by a defendant for service of sentence if the underlying offense is punishable by imprisonment for a term of 5 years or more;
8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(E)(i): Any alien admitted to the United States shall, upon the order of the Attorney General, be removed if the alien is within one or more of the following classes of deportable aliens: . . . (2)(E)(i) Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted of a crime of domestic violence . . . . For purposes of this clause, the term “crime of domestic violence” means any crime of violence (as defined in section 16 of Title 18) . . . by any individual against a person who is protected from that individual’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the United States or any State, Indian tribal government, or unit of local government.
“Crime of Violence” With respect to the first prong of the § 1227(a)(2)(E)(i) analysis, 18 U.S.C. § 16 defines a “crime of violence” as follows:
(a) an offense that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or (b) any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.
A “crime of violence” under § 16(b) has two elements: (1) that the crime is a felony; and (2) that the crime, “by its nature,” involves a substantial risk that physical force may be used. Under federal law, a crime is a “felony” if the maximum term of imprisonment authorized for the offense is “more than 1 year.” See 18 U.S.C. § 3559(a)
The BIA states that an offense does not fall within the definition of a “crime of domestic violence” under 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(E)(i) unless (1) the crime is a “crime of violence” as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 16, and (2) the person against whom the crime was committed was a “protected person” within the meaning of § 1227(a)(2)(E)(i). Applying its traditional categorical approach to criminal convictions, the Immigration Judge/BIA would hold that (1) a felony conviction constituted a “crime of violence” because the crime, as defined by Illinois case law, requires an intentional touching that caused bodily harm and was non-consensual and, therefore, involves a substantial risk that physical force may be used, and (2) victim /spouse was a “protected person” under Illinois criminal and civil law.
[DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: The offense of aggravated stalking pursuant to section 750.411i of the Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated is a crime involving moral turpitude Matter of AJAMI, Interim Decision #3405, 1999)
A single conviction for misdemeanor domestic battery is not an Aggravated felony- as a crime of violence, and is not necessarily CIMT, unless non citizen has two or more unrelated convictions for CIMT.
A misdemeanor domestic battery conviction- regardless of jail time imposed or served by non citizen –does not necessarily fall within domestic violence Ground of removability. Flores V. Ashcroft
A simple misdemeanor battery (not domestic battery) conviction, and jail sentence of up to 364 days, charged as “offensive touching” (not bodily harm), could be argued does not constitute CIMT and clearly does not constitute a domestic violence or aggravated felony grounds for removal. ________________________________________________________________________
An Immigration Judge in Arizona recently terminated a deportation proceeding based on domestic violence-related misdemeanor convictions after concluding that the convictions were not “crimes of violence” under the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA).
The INA describes various types of criminal conduct that can render an alien deportable. This list, increased by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) in 1996, includes convictions for domestic violence.
An alien charged with being deportable in an Arizona case was convicted of “misdemeanor assault / domestic violence”and of “misdemeanor Disorderly conduct / domestic violence”under state law. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) then sought his deportation, charging that the defendant was deportable under the domestic violence provision of INA §237(a)(2)(E)(i). This section defines a “crime of domestic violence”as any “crime of violence”committed against a person in one of several listed relationships with the perpetrator, e.g., a current or former spouse.
“Crime of violence,”in turn, is defined by another federal provision (18 U.S.C. §16): (a) an offense that has an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, or (b) any other offense that is a felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.
The respondent in the Arizona case argued that he could not be deported under the INA domestic violence ground for deportation because neither of his misdemeanor convictions met the federal statute’s definition of “crime of violence.”According to the Board of Immigration Appeals, the federal definition the classification described in the INA’s deportation provisions supersedes the state law definition to avoid inconsistent results for aliens similarly situated.
Specifically, in the Arizona case respondent argued that subpart (b) of the federal definition of “crime of violence”did not apply to his case because the offenses to which the defendant pleaded guilty were Misdemeanors, not felonies.
The respondent also argued that subpart (a) did not apply to him because the domestic violence provision required the “use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force”directed against a statutorily protected victim – elements not required for either of his misdemeanor State convictions.
Essentially, the Arizona domestic violence laws under which the respondent was convicted were broader in scope than the INA definition, because they could have allowed the prosecution of acts that did not involve attempted physical force or disorderly conduct directed to a victim. Evidence of misdemeanor domestic violence convictions under state law alone did not clearly and convincingly demonstrate that the respondent had actually committed the federally-defined domestic violence that renders a person deportable.
The Immigration Judge held that the INS failed to prove that the defendant actually committed domestic violence as defined by the INA (that is, he used or threatened physical force) in the incident for which he had been convicted under Arizona law. The judge thereafter terminated the defendant’s deportation proceedings and ordered immediate release from INS custody.