Had to write something about this because it touches on so much of what we immigration attorneys deal with on a daily basis – just not for famous people.
Justin Bieber has been having quite a lot of run-ins with the law right now. There is the vandalism issue in LA (but it’s not even clear that he will be charged). There is the drag racing, marijuana, Xanax issue fom Florida but it isn’t clear that will lead to any conviction either. He did test positive for marijuana and Xanax and appears to admit using both. And most recently he was charged with assault in Canada.
As far as I can tell Bieber is on a non-immigrant O-1 visa based on his extraordinary ability as a musician. It’s possible he has permanent residency through an EB1 petition based on the same. Not sure which one and it does make a difference when it comes to his ability to re-enter the US if the government gives him a hard time about these criminal issues.
Does any of this impact his ability to stay in or return to the United States?
As an initial matter it’s important to note that he has not been convicted on any of the charges nor did he plead guilty to any of them. Generally speaking it isn’t the charge that is the problem it’s the conviction. A guilty plea is a conviction for the purposes of immigration law. Usually a plea agreement results in a lesser charge so even the charges he has now may be modified downward becoming less serious offenses. He did, however, admit to drug use, which could be a problem independent of any conviction as we’ll see below.
Taking them one at a time…
Bieber has been accused of causing 20K in damage to his neighbors property by throwing eggs at it. As noted above the police don’t have a smoking gun but let’s assume he was charged with the offense. The options are either felony vandalism under or misdemeanor vandalism under P.C.§594.
Assuming it’s a felony it would not be what’s considered an aggravated felony under 8 USC 237 as it’s not a crime of violence. It would not be an offense under which he could be deported if he were in the US.
It becomes more complicated if he were convicted of a felony and then went outside the US. Because of the alleged amount of damage it might be considered a “crime involving moral turpitude” (CIMT) and if he got a jail sentence (probation doesn’t matter) of more than 6 months (even if the jail time was suspended) he would be “inadmissible” and be barred from coming back to the U.S. until he applied for, and received, a “waiver” of the bar to his admission.
If it’s a misdemeanor and he gets less than 6 months it would be a “petty offense” even if considered a CIMT and he would be admissible (and also would not get deported [by the way, removed is the proper term now])
Drag racing, drugs, resisting arrest..
Not concerned with the drag racing. Wouldn’t even be a CIMT as far as I can tell.
Not concerned about the resisting arrest without violence. Wouldn’t even be a CIMT as far as I can tell.
Concerned about the drugs and the admission of drug use. Under section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act admitting the essential elements of a controlled substance violation is sufficient, even absent a conviction, to be deemed inadmissible to the United States [See Pazcoguin v. Radcliffe, 292 F.3d 1209]. Marijuana use is a controlled substance violation. So if he’s convicted of drug use or admits to it’s use I could see that turning into a big deal. Maybe if he admitted smoking in Colorado it’d be no big deal but it’s still illegal in Florida as far as I’m aware and that could be a big problem for him in the future if the USCIS/ICE/CBP decides to go after him for something.
Don’t forget Amy Winehouse was banned from the US because of her drug problems…
He has returned to Canada to face charges of assaulting a limo driver. A lot is unknown here but it looks like it would be a common assault a worst which has a maximum 6 month penalty and 5000 dollar fine.
Assault can be considered a “crime involving moral turpitude” but there is plenty of case law that suggests a simple assault does not meet that standard. Additionally, since the maximum penalty is 6 months incarceration it would be considered a petty offense and not render Bieber inadmissible.
However, if he was convicted of assault and it was viewed as a CIMT AND he was convicted of vandalism AND it was considered a CIMT not only would be be removable if in the US he’d be inadmissible if he was outside of the US and again he would need a waiver.
If he’s on a non-immigrant visa a waiver is under 8 USC 212(d)(3) and is pretty straightforward. If he’s already a permanent resident he has to show extreme hardship to a US citizen spouse or child and that he cannot do. So this could all be worse for him if he already has a green card or seeks one in the future.
At this point he hasn’t been convicted of anything and my biggest concern for him would be the admission of drug use. That’s a big no-no under immigration law.
How this plays out remains to be seen but if he gets convicted I’ll update accordingly.