Will my criminal record affect my US citizenship? 17 Answers as of July 02, 2013

My question was involving a cimt (shoplifting in amt of $35.00), which under AZ statute (ARS 13-1805(a)5) falls within the petty offense exception (max punishment 6mos in jail). I served no jail time, but accepted a deferred prosecution agreement for a period of 12 months (no probation, no fines, no restitution), No plea of any kind was entered and after 12 months charges will be dismissed. I need to replace my I-151 green card with current I-551. I have been a lpr for 37 years with no prior criminal record here or in country of origin. I did have a speeding ticket in CA in 1993 for reckless driving for which I was arrested. No drugs or alcohol were involved. I just happened to be late for work. I paid a fine and attended traffic school. Will these factors adversely affect green replacement or application for US citizenship? I appreciate your assistance in this matter.

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Feldman Feldman & Associates, PC
Feldman Feldman & Associates, PC | Lynne Feldman
We will need to review the conviction itself to properly advise you. Was the shoplifting incident within the statutory period for citizenship (3 or 5 years before filing)? Is the 12 months completed? There should not be a problem to renew the PR card from your facts but need the documents to advise on when you can file for citizenship.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/14/2011
Carol Beth Wolfenson | Carol Beth Wolfenson
They will not affect replacement of the greencard. The shoplifting will affect citizenship. 5 yrs of good moral character is required.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 12/13/2011
Cardenas Law Firm
Cardenas Law Firm | Abraham Cardenas
It sounds like you will have no issue with applying for citizenship. The only concern I have is, when did the shoplifting charge happen? If it was within the last five years it may cause a problem with the filing for naturalization. My suggestion is that you seek the help of a good immigration attorney who can look at all of your documents regarding all of your cases to make sure there would be no issue before you file for naturalization. After 37 years its about time you become a U.S. citizen. I often am puzzled by how long folks wait to do so. Many are just lazy and other say they dont want to stop being (fill in country here). I always tell them that you dont stop being from where you are from. You just become a citizen of the United States. I cant tell you how many cases Ive had with people who could have become citizens long ago and didnt and now are in legal trouble that causes them to be deported. My worse case is a 49 year old native of Peru who came to the U.S. at the age of 6. He never became a citizen and at 49 committed a crime involving domestic violence that caused him to be deported. Nothing could save him. Dont let that happen to you. Speak to a lawyer and your naturalization started as soon as you can.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 12/12/2011
Fragomen, DelRey,Bernsen,& Loewy, LLP | David Hirson
The crime of shoplifting is a crime of moral turpitude. Two misdemeanors convictions or one felony conviction can result in an application to revoke your permanent resident status and to place you in removal (deportation) proceedings. To fully advise a complete court record with charging document and disposition should be obtained and reviewed with the applicable criminal code. Reckless driving is a crime of moral turpitude. Two crimes of moral turpitude can lead to your permanent residence being terminated and you should either apply to have one or both of the convictions reversed to overcome the possibility. Accordingly I do not recommend that you file an extension for a new I-551 green card or for citizenship until one or both convictions are reversed. Any pardon or court ordered expungement are less than a reversal of the conviction and will not assist you. The date of the first conviction could also be relevant if the conviction was within five years of obtaining your permanent residence status. Waivers may be available to you based on your specific circumstances.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 12/9/2011
Mevora Law Offices | Bradley C. Giglio
Criminal charges that resulted not just in convictions, but that resulted in supervision, conditional discharge, deferred prosecution, or a form of admission of guilt even if expunged can affect immigration/naturalization applications. Petty offenses also fall into this category. It is important to consult an attorney with the specifics of your situation including whether the charge was amended prior to the disposition, whether you completed the terms of your sentence satisfactorily, and whether there was an admission of guilt or the dismissal of charges after completion of some form of action like theft school, drug school, community service, etc.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 12/9/2011
    Christian Schmidt, Attorney at Law
    Christian Schmidt, Attorney at Law | Christian Schmidt
    You should not have any problems based on the information that you provided.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/9/2011
    Law Office of Christine Troy
    Law Office of Christine Troy | Christine Troy
    It might affect your ability to naturalize or your ability to renew a green card. You need to take your final court disposition that has your plea, conviction and sentencing on it to a competent immigration attorney in your jurisdiction who specializes in criminal immigration and naturalization law.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/8/2011
    Baughman & Wang
    Baughman & Wang | Justin X. Wang
    If your AZ deferred prosecution incident occurred within the statutory is 5 years before you apply for N-400, it would impact you. Wait until it has passed five years to apply for N-400.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/8/2011
    American Immigration Services, PLLC
    American Immigration Services, PLLC | Lani M. Nau
    Yes if it occurred in the last 5 years.
    Answer Applies to: District of Columbia
    Replied: 12/8/2011
    LAW OFFICES OF ALAN R. DIAMATNE APLC
    LAW OFFICES OF ALAN R. DIAMATNE APLC | Alan R. Diamante
    You do not appear to have a deportable offense. Therefore you should be fine. You should ask yourself why not apply for citizenship?
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/2/2013
    Bell, Nunnally & Martin, LLP | Karen-Lee Pollak
    Based on the Foreign Affairs Manual used by adjudicators in adjudicating citizenship applications, the offense should fall under the Petty Theft Exception and should not impact your application. Unfortunately, in some cases the USCIS still denies your case. In those instances, your option is to either file a court proceeding called a Petition for Review and the decision will be reversed.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 12/8/2011
    Adesina Law Office, P.C.
    Adesina Law Office, P.C. | Adebayo Adesina
    Yes and No. No- Your criminal record does not necessarily make you "inadmissible." Your criminal record is considered along with your entire record to determine your eligibility for adjustment of status. Consider it to be a negative. You will need to be represented by an attorney that can assist you with presenting you case in the best light possible. Yes- Ultimately, it is up to the immigration officer reviewing your application's discretion. If you fail to disclose any prior criminal record and it is later revealed or if they think you have a pattern of disobeying the law. It is within their discretion to deny. Having said that, it sounds like you have some redeeming qualities that can be highlighted plus the last offense occur in 1993. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/8/2011
    Wildes & Weinberg, P.C. | Leon Wildes
    You must avoid replying incompletely to questions on applications, but after thee year is up, it will probably be fine.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/8/2011
    Law Offices of Grinberg and Segal
    Law Offices of Grinberg and Segal | Alexander Segal
    Based upon the information you provided, you should have no problem replacing your I-551. This does not mean that you will not be required to submit additional documents regarding your arrest, but in the end you will most likely be issued a new I-551. You will need to disclose the arrest on any applications you file with USCIS and will need to obtain a certified disposition for the arrest/court case from the court. As for applying for citizenship, the impact this will have on your case will depend upon how recently this occurred and when you intend to apply or citizenship as well as other factors such as payment of income taxes, fulfilling child support obligations, etc. As such, I would need additional information from you to assess your chances of naturalization.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/8/2011
    Fong & Associates
    Fong & Associates | William D. Fong
    It should be fine for replacement of your Green Card, but you will need to wait five years after completion of probation to file for citizenship.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 12/8/2011
    Matthew Cameron Attorney at Law
    Matthew Cameron Attorney at Law | Matt Cameron
    I always advise that anyone with a criminal record (no matter how minor) retain counsel before applying for citizenshipif nothing else, it provides some insurance against losing your $680 filing fee. Also, if you are eligible to naturalize I would recommend that you do so before your current I-551 expires in order to save the expense of filing an I-90. I am not specifically familiar with the Arizona statute that you mentioned, but if you are correct that it falls under the petty offense exception, it sounds like you are in good shape to apply for naturalization. I would still want to see the record from the 1993 case (you will need to include it with your application anyway), but this sounds good based on what you've said. (I'm am NOT advising you to file herejust acknowledging that everything you've told me so far sounds positive.)
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 12/8/2011
    Eric M. Mark, Attorney at Law
    Eric M. Mark, Attorney at Law | Eric Mark
    You do not provide the date of the Arizona incident. You need to speak with a lawyer before filing any applications with uscis because there are potential issues.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 12/8/2011
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney