San Fernando Valley Criminal & DUI Defense Lawyers

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Prostitution: Beware of a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude

Many people, myself included, feel that prostitution should be legalized, regulated, licensed and taxed. Maybe one day that will happen in our fine state. However, the federal government views this crime much differently than the state. Because prostitution under California Penal code Section 647 (a) is a crime involving moral turpitude or CIMT, it could be cause for deportation, denial of naturalization or denial of re-entry into the United States for a non-U.S. citizen.

What Are the Consequences?

That’s alright, we say. Here in Los Angeles and in other locations, there are diversion programs for prostitution. I can plead guilty to the charge, do some classes and take an HIV test and come back in a year and get the case dismissed. Problem solved, right? Wrong! The federal government considers this guilty plea a conviction. For immigration purposes, this is just as bad as being convicted at trial and sentenced to jail. It should be noted that this procedure is very similar to deferred entry of judgment (DEJ) for drug cases. And, DEJ is also considered a conviction under federal law.

Immigration Status

How then do we deal with a prostitution charge and not let it affect immigration status? The answer is that we must get creative. By getting the charge changed, we may be able to avoid a CIMT. If we are able to get the charged reduced to Trespassing (Penal Code Section 602) or Disturbing the Peace (Penal Code Section 415), the punishment may be the same, yet the result is worlds apart. By doing this we have avoided a conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude, we have dramatically decreased our client’s likelihood of immigration consequences and the punishment may be exactly the same or even less.

The same logic holds true for drug offenses. If we let our clients plead guilty to a felony drug charges and take deferred entry of judgment, we may be setting them up for deportation down the road. Rather, if we seek to change the charge or informalize the disposition, we may save the client a great deal of heartache down the road.

Questions or Contact for our Firm

If you have questions about immigration consequences in criminal cases or have been arrested and have questions about your arrest, please call me:

Attorney Jeffrey Vallens (818) 783-5700 or (888) 764-4340

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Jeffrey Vallens is a criminal defense attorney in Southern California. He has been practicing criminal and DUI defense for well over 20 years. This and any other article or information on his sites is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for legal advice. Please contact a lawyer directly for advice about any particular set of facts or circumstances.