The Deportation Option: Can An Undocumented Person Choose Deportation Instead of Criminal Prosecution?

Texas Immigration Crimes – When I represent undocumented persons who are accused of a crime in the United States, I am often asked by the accused or their family whether they can choose to be deported instead of having to go through a criminal case and potentially serving prison time. This question is understandable.  When a person who has come to the United States without documentation is suddenly facing serious criminal charges for an immigration crime, the situation can create fear and anxiety, both for the accused person and for their loved ones.  The accused person may be responsible for providing for the family financially, or may be essential to the family in other ways.  The family may then fear that they will not be able to support themselves if their loved one is in prison. They may also simply have trouble coping with the thought of possibly being without their loved one for a long time.  Naturally, they want to know what options they have, and they often ask whether they can choose to be deported rather than face criminal charges.

Unfortunately, the answer is “no.”  If an undocumented person is found guilty of a crime, the person will be punished by the criminal justice system and then deported after that.  

There are several reasons why.  The most basic reason is that the American criminal justice system involves punishment for people who commit crimes, whether they are American citizens or undocumented persons.  If a person has come to the United States illegally, they can be deported for that. If the person comes to the United States illegally and commits a crime here, the person faces the same type of punishment for the crime as an American citizen, and then, they can be deported for coming here illegally.  Depending on what charges a person is facing will determine what type of lawyer you will need for your case.

Think of it this way:  If an American citizen commits a crime, the American citizen will be punished based on the seriousness of the crime.  The American citizen cannot simply ask to be sent to a foreign country to avoid spending time in prison. If an undocumented person could simply choose to go back to another country and avoid punishment, they would be in a better position than an American citizen who has committed the same crime, just because they were in the United States illegally.  An undocumented person cannot escape punishment for a crime just because they are undocumented.

Another reason there is no “deportation option” is because, if there was, there would be little reason for undocumented persons to avoid committing crime.  They could come to the United States, commit crimes, and when caught, just ask to go home. Therefore, punishment for a crime helps to deter people from coming to the United States and committing crime.

If Deportation Is Not An Option, What Can You Do?

Because there is no option to choose deportation when you are accused of a crime, you must defend the case like anyone else would.  That means hiring an experienced and skilled criminal defense lawyer who can analyze your case and explain what options you do have.  

It may be that the case can be dismissed if your rights were violated.  It may be that the case can be won at trial, if the jury can be persuaded to find you “not guilty.”  Or, it may be that your best option is to admit that you are guilty and try to get the lowest possible sentence you can get.  

You will need a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer in Texas who will be able to analyze the case, protect your rights, and advise you how to proceed and to make the best possible decisions for you.  If you or a loved one has been charged with an immigration crime, do not hesitate to call an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will fight for your rights.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney John Helms

Tel: (214) 666-8010