Immigration Consequences of a Conviction for Shoplifting
Sometimes the shoplifting is by simply carrying out an item or items from the store without paying. Other times, it involves changing price tags to pay a lesser amount. Other times, an employee of the store at issue embezzles items he or she was entrusted with selling.In a Nutshell: Shoplifting is a clear case of moral turpitude and thus a deportable offense. If one has a second misdemeanor conviction for shoplifting, this can considered be an aggravated felony under immigration law.
If the individual is an undocumented alien, that individual becomes ineligible for admission into the United States.
Generally speaking, legal aliens in California who are convicted of just one crime involving moral turpitude face deportation only if the crime carries a possible jail sentence of at least one year and the crime was allegedly committed within five years of the alien being admitted to the United States. If the individual is in the United States on an S-Visa, the time limit is raised to ten years (S-Visas are commonly called “snitch visas,” as they are given to aliens who assist law enforcement in criminal and terrorist activities).
However, under the “petty offense exception,” an alien may still be admissible to the United States if the individual only committed one offense and the maximum sentence is one year and the sentence imposed is no more than six months of jail time.
If this is not possible, the attorney should see if there is any defense such as the client being absent minded (i.e. engaged in a cell-phone conversation) or a mistake of the store (i.e. the item really belonged to you).
In negotiating for such plea bargains to avoid the immigration consequences of a conviction for shoplifting, the attorney may be wise to have the client complete online classes for shoplifting prevention in the future. It is also prudent to immediately request a copy of the store security film, if it exists, as such videos rarely actually show any theft. More often than not, the film merely shows our client in the store, which is certainly not a crime.
For more information about shoplifting and petty theft, click on the following articles:
For case summaries of selected theft cases our firm has handled, click here.
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