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Immigration and Criminal Conviction

Posted on November 9, 2023 in

“My attorney didn’t tell me that I would lose my fingerprint card!”just-thought-collateral-consequences-criminal-conviction

“I didn’t know probation would not let me keep my job or travel.”

“I can’t believe probation, won’t let me move back home.”

“You mean I lost my license for at least 3 years!”

These questions and many others are always troubling when I hear them. For more than 28 years practicing criminal defense, it always bothers me when defense counsel fails to advise clients concerning problems their criminal conviction may cause. As your attorney, it is my job to address your concerns, minimize any potential damage, and take out my crystal ball and advise you of likely problems your decisions may incur.

As your attorney, we may not be able to fix the problems, but especially before deciding to accept a plea avgreement, you need to understand the risks that your conviction may cause. In addition to the criminal punishment of incarceration, fines, probation, counseling, etc…, your conviction may result in substantial collateral consequences.

Anyone holding a professional license such as a medical professional, pilot, or law enforcement officer to name just a few, may see their conviction result in the loss of their driving privilege, their ability to possess a weapon or keep any job with a security clearance.


The list of crimes subject to one’s losing their fingerprint clearance card are set forth at in ARS 41-1758.03. Generally, if the underlying offense involves any sex-based crime or involves prostitution, you are likely automatically precluded from obtaining a fingerprint card.

However, other crimes may also preclude your card. The majority of those crimes are “violent” offenses.  Mostly listing assault or causing serious injury or death related conduct, the list also includes theft and drug offenses and crimes of domestic violence.

In some cases, you may be able to request a hearing and obtain a good cause exception. But, it can take up to 20 days for the board to conduct an expedited review. If denied, then the hearing officer can take up to 45 days to have the hearing. And they make take up to an additional 80 days to render a ruling.  Can you live without your fingerprint card for the possible 145 days for the process to be completed?

Concerning DUI convictions, if it is a misdemeanor, you will not be able to drive any vehicle to transport employees or clients of the employer even if it is required for the employment.  There are NO exceptions. You can drive a company car, but won’t be able to transport anyone else.

If the DUI is a felony or falls within the “Endangerment” category, your fingerprint card is to be suspended on arrest, and revoked if convicted.

As a side note, there are no issues with the fingerprint card if the criminal charge is reckless driving or leaving the scene of an accident.


It is unclear how the Trump Administration may change the current immigration policy where it intersects with criminal conduct.  Generally speaking, when prosecuted for any criminal act, a non-US citizen may face immigration consequences.  The key word is “may.”

Some convictions require mandatory deportation. And, when deportation is ordered, it is ordered AFTER one completes their sentence.  One does not get a free pass for a jail or prison term. Rather, you will need to complete the incarceration, then face deportation.

Some convictions may make you deportable.  In those cases, you will need to litigate your matter with Immigration.

And, some convictions may require deportation but may allow readmission into the United States after satisfying specific conditions.


If you hold professional licenses, you may have reporting requirements for being arrested or subsequently being convicted.  Each licensing agency has their own requirements.  It is extremely important that you bring this information to your attorney so they can hopefully advise you as to the best course of action.

In all cases where reporting is required, you must do so timely.  From an employer standpoint, it is much easier to terminate your job if you fail to report.


There are too many other collateral consequences that can result from a criminal conviction.  The may include limits on your gun rights, where you can reside and with whom, and child custody and family law concerns to name just a few.

The real trick is trying to resolve the case without a conviction, or obtaining a conviction to a crime that does not have collateral consequences.  Finding the right path to resolve these issues takes an attorney with the experience to read the right map, avoid the landmines, and minimize any potential damage.

I have had success in dealing with these issues.  Sometimes, I can obtain dismissals.  Other times, the best result is a negotiated plea to a crime that does not carry the collateral consequences.

Your best defense, at a minimum, is to consult with an experienced attorney. When facing any investigation for a misdemeanor or felony, it is a serious matter. Please contact me, Howard Snader. I am a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist. If you or anyone you know has been accused of any felony or misdemeanor, please call me at 602.899-1596, email him at [email protected] or visit for your free case review.