Being arrested or charged with a crime can be a frightening experience—especially if you aren’t a U.S. citizen. Depending on your status and the alleged crime, you may face serious consequences, such as ineligibility for U.S. citizenship or even deportation.
No matter your immigration status, however, you still have many rights. If you are arrested and/or charged with a crime as a non-citizen, knowing these rights will be critical to your future here in the United States.
Here are some of the most important rights you have as a non-citizen:
- The right to remain silent. You don’t need to answer all the officer’s questions. Oftentimes you don’t even need to disclose your immigration status or even how you entered the country—even if officers are entering your home with a warrant. The only exception is you should definitely not lie about your status as a non-citizen, this might get you into more trouble. Otherwise, if you invoke your right to remain silent, say so.
- The right to deny a search of your person/vehicle or entry into your home. In general, officers can only search you if they have probable cause. Additionally, a removal/deportation order is not enough to allow officers to enter your home without your consent. If anyone seeks entry with only a deportation order, do not open the door, and ask to see a warrant issued by a Judge. Clearly say “I do not consent to your entry.” If they have an arrest warrant, however, they can enter your home without your consent. They can also enter if you are on probation with a search condition.
- The right to a lawyer. Whether you are arrested by police or detained by ICE, you have the right to consult a lawyer. If you are arrested by police for a crime, the government must provide a lawyer for you if you cannot hire one. If you are detained by ICE, however, the government does not need to provide one for you. You can, however, ask for information about low-cost options, and you can request more time to find a lawyer. Your lawyer can visit you while you are in detention, and they can accompany you to your hearing before an immigration judge.
- The right to challenge a deportation order. In other words, you can argue your case before an immigration judge at a hearing. You have this right unless you waive your right and sign a “stipulated removal order,” or choose to take voluntary departure. Consult a lawyer immediately if you are told you cannot have a hearing. The Authorities may have misinformed you, and a lawyer can help you take advantage of any and all options at your disposal.
Keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list of your rights, and it does not fully consider your unique circumstances. You might also have additional options if you fear torture or persecution in your home country. If this is the case, tell the officer and contact a lawyer right away.
We also recommend taking the following steps in the event of an arrest or detainment:
- Tell them your name
- Provide license, registration, and proof of insurance
- Provide immigration papers, if requested
- Be honest (if you choose to answer their questions)
- Remain calm and do not resist the officers, even if you believe they are violating your rights or entering your home without the authorization to do so
- Do not flee from an immigration checkpoint
- Make emergency plans ahead of time (e.g. what your family will do, who you will call, what lawyer you will retain, etc.)
- Ask your lawyer how a conviction could impact your status
- Write down information about the incident and the officer who interacted with you, especially if you believe they violated your rights (e.g. name, badge number, patrol car number, agency, contact info of witnesses, details about the event, etc.)
Any interaction with police or ICE can be terrifying, but you will greatly benefit from knowing your rights and learning ahead of time what to do in the event of an arrest.
Bring Your Concerns to Our Dedicated Attorney
At The Law Office of Yifei He, PLLC, our lawyer wants to be your trusted advocate in your time of need. Our law firm has helped countless immigrants protect their status, avoid deportation, and take the necessary steps to build a safe and secure future here in the United States. The sooner you get in touch with our firm, the sooner we can build your case and fight for your rights and wellbeing.