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Filing for citizenship with misdemeanor - after end of probation

Discussion in 'US Citizenship' started by chirag11, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. chirag11

    chirag11 Registered Users (C)


    I moved from India and I have been a US green card holder since 1999. I was convicted of Misdemeanor for shoplifting in Jan 2002 and was placed on 3 yr probation with fine and 1 day jail (but with credit for 1 day so I did no actual jail) and was booked and released. My arresstee record from book and release says the charge is PC 484, 488. Since my probation has ended in Jan 2005, and I have had no other legal issues/arrests or anything since then, is it okay to file for citizenship now? What issues should I plan for? I know I need to answer everything truthfully on N-400 and I need to provide a certified copy of the disposition. What are the chances of my application being denied? What are my chances of being deported?

    Can others who have been in such a situation actually got/denied their citizenship share their experience please?

    Please also tell me anything else I should know/keep in mind.

    Thanks in advance
  2. Bobsmyth

    Bobsmyth Volunteer Moderator

    Only certain crimes are bars to naturalization and only certain of these crimes are grounds for deportation. A single petty theft conviction is not considered to fall under a crime involving moral turpitude unless the maximum sentence is more than 1 year and actual sentence more than 6 months.
    Were you convicted and sentenced for 2 separate offenses?
  3. chirag11

    chirag11 Registered Users (C)

    Thanks Bobsmyth for the quick response.

    I was convicted only 1 time in Jan 2002. No other convictions or arrests after that. My Jail sentence was just book and release and 1 day jail with credit - here is the exact text in the probation order

    "Defendent is sentenced to the ORANGE COUNTY JAIL as to count 1 for 1 DAY with credit for time served including good time work time for 1 days."

    My lawyer at that time told me that this means that I do not go to jail - I just have to go do the book and release process.

    Where do I find what is the Maximum possible sentence for my crime? Is it less than 1 year in California? Charge is PC 484-488. My actual sentence without considering the credit is 1 day jail. So its definitely less than 6 months.

    Can this case still be considered severe enough to deny citizenship and/or deport?
  4. chirag11

    chirag11 Registered Users (C)

    Hi - I just found this on a website (http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/490.5.html) - this applies to me and if I understand correctly, maximum sentence is 6 months for first offense.

    California Penal Code Section 490.5
    (a) Upon a first conviction for petty theft involving merchandise taken from a merchant's premises or a book or other library materials taken from a library facility, a person shall be punished by a mandatory fine of not less than fifty dollars ($50) and not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each such violation; and may also be punished by imprisonment in the county jail, not exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment.

    Does this mean I have a better chance to get citizenship and would most likely not be deported?
  5. Jackolantern

    Jackolantern Registered Users (C)

    See an experienced immigration lawyer to get more information. Shoplifting can be a deportable offense, so don't trust your future to an anonymous message board.
  6. Bobsmyth

    Bobsmyth Volunteer Moderator

    Considering that it was a single offense with a maximum sentence of less than 1 year you do not fall under the "inadmissible" category.(see 8 U.S.C 1182(a)(2)(A)(ii)).

    Of course it goes without saying to always consult an immigration lawyer who specializes in criminal cases when making any choices that can potenitally affect your current and future benefits.
  7. chirag11

    chirag11 Registered Users (C)

    Thank you all. I will definitely speak to an immigration lawyer but I guess I wanted to know if this leads to deportation for sure or there is a chance I would get the citizenship. After reading U.S.C 1182(a)(2)(A)(ii) it seems like I should be okay - at least I hope so. I main concern is that I have kept this secret from my entire family including my wife and it would be the most embarrassing thing for me.
  8. boatbod

    boatbod Registered Users (C)

    There is no simple answer to your question. Shoplifting is a CIMT, and as such would (at least temporarily) make you ineligible for naturalization. Whether or not you become excludable really depends on the mapping of the original charges into the equivalent "conviction for immigration purposes", and in particular, the potential penalty associated with it. Your best bet is still a professional consultation with someone having direct knowledge of this area of immigration law.
  9. shie0023

    shie0023 Registered Users (C)

    I had a similar situation. I, too, had been convicted of misdemeanors, but mine were DWIs (1998 and 1999) with probation ended in 4/2003.

    Well, I applied for N400 for the first time back in 2000 and it was denied due to lack of moral character since I was still in my probationary period for the second DWI. Now that my probation is over, I decided to reapply.

    When my probation was over in 4/2003, I could've reapplied then, but I waited until 7/2007 to reapply in recommendation of a lawyer (I didn't hire him, but I did go to a one-time consultation for $200 fee). He stated that even though you're off probation and if you apply right away, a mean immigration officer can still use the fact that you were in probation in the last 5 years = lack of good moral character!

    This lawyer recommended that, "to be safe", I should wait for 5 years had past from the end of my probation to reapply so the USCIS can't use the lack of 5-year good moral character to deny my application. Well, that's exactly what I did and I interview in 5 days so I will let you know how it will turn out.

    I have two misdemeanors, you have only have one. In my opinion, DWI is much more serious offense and worse than shop lifting. If my application gets approved, then I don't think you'll have a problem unless, like I said earlier, you apply now and get an immigration office that is a dick when you interview and denies your application with "lack of good moral character" because you were still on probation in the last 5 years.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2008
  10. m30655

    m30655 Registered Users (C)

    If the citizenship is denied for any reason, can the individual re-apply again? If yes, then is there a time period before s/he can reply again?
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2008
  11. Jackolantern

    Jackolantern Registered Users (C)

    The answer to those questions depends on the reason for denial.

    Some crimes will result in deportation. For others, you can just wait until 5 years after the crime.

    If denied for insufficient years of continuous residence, you can reapply once you have (re)accumulated sufficient time in the US.

    If denied because of missing documentation, you can usually reapply as soon as you get the documents (or get a sufficiently documented reason for why you couldn't obtain the document).
  12. m30655

    m30655 Registered Users (C)

    Jackolantern et.all,

    Thanks for the reply. Do you know if the Interview letter is received, it means the case/application is fine and it's only the normal course to wrap-up the formalities. If there were any chances of deportation, will there still be an interview or just a letter from the immigration court and no interview?

    Thanks in advance.
  13. boatbod

    boatbod Registered Users (C)

    A case is not adjudicated until the interview takes place, so the fact that you received an interview appointment means nothing other that your namecheck results have been returned to USCIS.
  14. Jackolantern

    Jackolantern Registered Users (C)

    Generally, they only reject it outright without an interview if something important was amiss with the application (like you didn't fill in your name, or the fee you paid was incorrect), or if you applied before you were eligible to apply.
  15. chirag11

    chirag11 Registered Users (C)

    Shie0023 - Good luck and please let us know how your interview went...

    Post it as soon as you can!!!
  16. shie0023

    shie0023 Registered Users (C)

    chirag11, as long as you have 5 years of no breaking the law or on probation, you'll be fine! Even with my 2 DUIs, I was approved. Good luck!
  17. chirag11

    chirag11 Registered Users (C)

    WOOHO!!! Excellent!!! I am happy for you.. this also gives me a lot of ease of mind!! Thanks
  18. isaevat

    isaevat Registered Users (C)

    shie0023!!! I wanted to clarify one thing, since you went through all of this. I have misdemeaner case, shoplifting. (100-500) end of 2006. I had court date Feb 2007. Probation ended in Jan 2008. My question is, when i could apply? End of conviction ( i've read that for immigration law, probation period time is conviction time too), Jan 2008? or Court date 2007? I know i should have 5 years of clean record at least. Please help. Thanks,
  19. Bobsmyth

    Bobsmyth Volunteer Moderator

    shie0023's post is from 2008 and hasn't posted since, so don't expect answer.
  20. Lolitochka

    Lolitochka Registered Users (C)

    I read in one of the postings, that you need to start counting from the last day your probation has ended, which in your case means Jan 2008.

    (Not a lawyer here)


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