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Does Shoplifting Affect Immigration Visas or Citizenship?


At Zeliff | Watson, we are one of north Atlanta and Forsyth County's most experienced teams of shoplifting defense attorneys. We represent dozens of clients on an annual basis that have never been in trouble before, never been arrested, but have somehow been charged or cited with shoplifting. A frequent concern is how a shoplifting charge will impact immigration, as many of our clients are on either employment-based, or family-based visa holders, or lawful permanent residents. So, will a shoplifting charge affect your citizenship?

The short answer is, YES, it absolutely can affect your ability to lawfully remain in the United States, especially if you simply go to court and plead guilty, no contest (nolo contendre), or first offender to the charges.

At Zeliff | Watson, we work closely with immigration attorneys on a case-by-case basis and will always advocate and negotiate for the least problematic outcome to your shoplifting or theft case. Immigration laws are constantly changing, and enforcement priorities are being re-ordered, so having a true partnership between your defense attorney and your immigration attorney is a true necessity.

Typically, we negotiate for a pretrial diversion or some other dismissal of charges, especially where immigration concerns loom. From our first appointment, we will begin counseling you on what to expect as well as building your defense and making sure you know what to begin doing to help your case.

Pretrial diversion is often the best option because if the agreement is executed correctly, it should not involve an admission or finding of guilt. This, based on current day interpretations, is the single biggest issue in immigration cases- whether or not there was a finding or admission of guilt on your part. Do not worry about any documents the store- whether it be Home Depot, Kohls, Walmart, or the like had you fill out. When we are talking about admissions, we are referring to admissions in court, or in a plea hearing. Again, pretrial diversion should avoid all of this, and allow for your record to be restricted. Of course, we advise you to consult with your immigration attorney about what and how to disclose an arrest when you renew or apply through USCIS. Remember, government agencies can always see past arrests, so full disclosure is critical. Though, a dismissal without any guilt admission should put you in the best situation moving forward.

If you have been arrested for shoplifting or a theft crime, call our experienced defense team today to begin crafting your defense. Successful negotiations begin with thorough and quick case preparation. Often times, we can use our contacts to have all evidence and sometimes even an offer in our file within 2 weeks of your arrest. This is critical when dealing with a criminal record that could impact immigration.

We can be reached 24/7 at (770) 676-1340, or by filling out our confidential contact form.

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