I Am a Non-Citizen and Committed a Crime. What Next?
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides for a fair trial for all citizens committed of a crime. Although almost every country that follows the rule of law has a similar right entrenched in its constitution ― and the United Nations has passed a declaration protecting the rights of non-citizens ― if you commit a crime in America and you are not a United States citizen, then it can be a completely different story. The power given to law enforcement agencies against immigrants suspected of crime has increased steadily over the last decade. Knowing your rights as a non-citizen is essential.
United Nations Declaration sets out rights for non-citizens
Passed in 1985, the Declaration on the Human Rights of Individuals Who Are Not Nationals of the Country in Which They Live sets out certain rights for non-citizens. These include, amongst other fundamental rights:
- The right to life and security; no person shall be subject to arbitrary arrest of detention
- The right to equality before the courts, tribunals and all other authorities administering justice
These rights can be lost or reduced if the person who committed the crime is deemed a threat to national or public security. The Criminal Aliens Program administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement places a high priority on the removal of immigrants who have committed a crime. The crime can either be one that has been committed prior to entering the U.S. or whilst on U.S. soil.
Understand your rights and seek advice
The first thing to do when convicted of a crime as a non-citizen is to ask that all formalities be conducted in a language that you fully understand. You may want to contact your home country’s embassy or consulate to see if they can provide any advice. You should also contact an attorney with knowledge of criminal litigation as well as immigration law experience.
Contact a Tucson, Arizona law firm concentrating on immigration and criminal defense
If you have been charged with a crime and you are not a U.S. citizen, or if your immigration status has been threatened due to previous criminal proceedings, contact the Benavidez Law Group. Our offices are centrally located in Tucson, Arizona and we are fluent in both Spanish and English.