Retail Fraud and Citizenship
IN GENERAL: RETAIL FRAUD AND CITIZENSHIP
Retail fraud or shoplifting is one of the most common offenses in the Metro Detroit area. Although it is usually caused by a momentary lapse in judgment, the offender may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the underlying facts of the incident. Retail fraud typically consists of a person attempting to leave a store with a merchandise for which he did not pay or changing a price tag on an item in order to misrepresent the true price of that merchandise. A retail fraud or shoplifting conviction may result in probation, imprisonment, payment of fines or serious immigration consequences.
FIRST DEGREE RETAIL FRAUD: FELONY CHARGE
If the value of the stolen merchandise is $1,000 or more, you could face up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 or up to 3 times the value of the merchandise, whichever is greater. This offense is also charged if you have a prior theft conviction, and the value of the stolen merchandise for the current retail fraud offense is $200 or more. The maximum penalty can increase if you are charged as a habitual offender due to one or more prior felony convictions.
SECOND DEGREE RETAIL FRAUD: MISDEMEANOR CHARGE
If the value of the merchandise is at least $200, but under $1,000, you could face up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000 or 3 times the value of the merchandise, whichever is greater. If you already have a prior conviction for retail fraud at the time of a newly charged retail fraud offense, the prosecution can charge Second Degree Retail Fraud even when the value of the merchandise is under $200.
THIRDDEGREE RETAIL FRAUD: MISDEMEANOR CHARGE
If the value of the merchandise is under $200, you could face up to 93 days in jail and a fine of up to $500 or 3 times the value of the merchandise, whichever is greater.
IN GENERAL: RETAIL FRAUD AND CITIZENSHIP
Since retail fraud is typically classified as a crime involving moral turpitude, as a permanent resident in the United States, when you have a conviction of retail fraud, your immigration status will possibly be impacted in three aspects with that conviction. First, you may be deportable. Second, you may be inadmissible at the time of return after travelling overseas. Third, the conviction can affect your application for naturalization.
RETAIL FRAUD MAY TRIGGER DEPORTABILITY
Whether you are deportable with a retail fraud conviction depends on the maximum sentence carried under the status you are convicted and also upon how long you have been a permanent resident. If the retail fraud occurs within 5 years of your admission to the US, and the statute which you are convicted of carries a maximum sentence of one year or longer, you are deportable. You will also be deportable if you have two or more retail fraud convictions.
RETAIL FRAUD MY TRIGGER INADMISSIBILITY
When an alien returns to the United States after visiting a foreign country, he or she is always subject to inspection at the border. For immigration purposes, this is called “admission”. The law governing aliens who return back to the United States after visiting another country is INA § 212 – Excludable Aliens. INA § 212 is more restrictive and less lenient than INA § 237, and therefore the consequences are sometimes more severe for aliens with a criminal conviction who leave the United States and try to return. You may be considered inadmissible if your conviction for retail fraud carries a maximum sentence more than 12 months and you are sentenced to jail for more than 6 months. If you are considered “inadmissible”, you will be paroled into the United States and will be placed into removal proceedings. You will have a chance to see an immigration judge, either to fight the removal against you or to seek other avenues of relief which may be available to you to remain in the United States. Please remember that certain crimes that do not affect you in terms of being deported from the United States could make you “inadmissible”.
RETAIL FRAUD AND CITIZENSHIP
To apply for United States citizenship by naturalization, an applicant needs to establish that he or she has a good moral character. A conviction of crime involving moral turpitude within five years of application for naturalization can be evidence of lack of good moral character and thus result in the denial of such an application. An applicant with a conviction that is not a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT), can still be considered as a person with good moral character. Good lawyering, coupled with supporting documents and information, can make a big difference in this determination. If a retail fraud involves a loss to the victim more than $10,000.00 (ten thousand dollars), this is classified as an aggravated felony under the immigration law and will trigger a permanent bar from obtaining United States citizenship.