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Aggravated Felony

Aggravated Felony

A compilation of some FAQs about aggravated felony which will help you do away with all your doubts about the same. Continue reading....
Abhijit Naik
Even though an alien in the United States can be deported from the country for several different crimes, deportation can be avoided in cases wherein the individual in question meets the guidelines stipulated for cancellation of removal. However, there does exist a concept referred to as 'aggravated felony', and a conviction in any crime which falls under this classification of felony can leave the individual in question with very few defense arguments. Sadly though, most of the people out there don't know what it is, and this ignorance on the part of the people can be attributed to the legal intricacies of the matter.

Aggravated Felony

As per the immigration law of the United States of America, the term 'aggravated felony' is used for various criminal activities, which can result in severe consequences for aliens who are seeking legal permanent resident status or asylum in the country. While deportation, when convicted for certain minor crimes can be challenged by resorting to cancellation of removal, there are virtually no chances of avoiding deportation when it comes to criminal acts which are grouped under this broad concept. While the sentence varies in accordance of felony classes, it is always followed by deportation when it comes to aggravated felony. One has to also take into consideration the fact that a particular crime which is not considered aggravated by a state, can be still considered aggravated under the Federal Law.


A conviction in a crime which is considered aggravated felony can restrict the person from becoming a citizen of the United States or receiving asylum in the country. As we mentioned earlier, the deportation orders for an individual convicted for these crimes cannot be waived as in case of other relatively minor crimes. At the same time, it also prohibits the felon from re-entering the United States territorial borders in the future. As aggravated felonies are subject to mandatory detention provisions stipulated in the Immigration and Nationality Act, the authorities have the right to detain the convict until his deportation is carried out by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

List of Crimes

The concept of aggravated felony was added to the Immigration and Nationality Act back in 1988, when crimes associated with drug abuse were at their peak. However, only murder, drugs trafficking and arms trafficking were considered aggravated felonies back then. It was only after the addition of Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) that the list of crimes considered aggravated felonies became lengthy. As of today, an alien can be convicted for crimes like:
  • Murder
  • Drug trafficking
  • Arms trafficking, as well as crimes involving explosives and firearms
  • Disclosing national security information, which threatens the security of the nation.
  • Human trafficking
  • Illegal immigration, passport fraud, etc.
  • Rape, sexual abuse of a minor, child pornography, etc.
  • Prostitution and related criminal activities
  • Violent crimes
  • Money laundering
  • Burglary conviction with sentence exceeding a year
  • Racketing conviction with sentence exceeding a year
  • Frauds with total loss exceeding $10,000
  • Extortion, ransom demands, counterfeiting, forgery, bribery, etc.
  • Failing to appear in prison to serve prison sentence or in court for criminal prosecution.
  • And lastly, attempting or conspiring any of the crimes enlisted above.
An alien convicted for aggravated felony has very few legal rights. He is not given access to the Immigration Court or the Federal Court, but is instead automatically deported by resorting to specific procedures which speed up the deportation process. The authorities put in all the efforts to ensure that the individual is deported as soon as he completes his term in the US prisons. More importantly, the deportation orders of aliens convicted for aggravated felonies are not subject to reviews by federal court - and that does help in speeding up the entire process.