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Aggravated Felonies

Are you charged with a crime
and not sure how it will affect your immigration status? 
Did you receive a notice to appear
in immigration court after your criminal case was over?

We’re Here to Help!

“Aggravated Felony” may be the most misleading term in the law. If you have any experience with criminal law, then you probably know that a felony is a relatively serious crime. You might think that an “aggravated felony” includes only the most serious. But that is not necessarily the case in immigration law. Although the term “aggravated felony” includes serious crimes such as murder, rape, and robbery, it also includes some crimes that most jurisdictions do not even classify as felonies, let alone serious felonies.

Here are some examples of misdemeanors in Pennsylvania that could be considered aggravated felonies by immigration authorities:

  • Receiving stolen property (imprisonment at least one year);
  • Obstruction of justice (imprisonment at least one year);
  • Failure to surrender for a 90 day prison sentence for DUI (where maximum penalty is five years)

There is also much confusion over what it means to have a “conviction” for an aggravated felony. You may think that a conviction only happens when one pleads guilty or is found guilty after a trial. But that’s not all that it means in immigration law. For example, a conviction can include a pre-trial “diversionary program,” where the defendant pleads no contest and the judge places him on probation for a year and requires him to undergo drug treatment without ever finding him guilty!

Because of this confusion, people often end up with convictions for aggravated felonies without ever realizing it and then find themselves in removal proceedings. With limited grounds for relief, they are at risk of being ripped away from their families.

If you have a criminal case, it is important to get the advice of an experienced immigration lawyer right away before you make a decision that could jeopardize your immigration status. Even if your criminal case is over, and even if you are already in removal proceedings, it may not be too later. There are often good legal grounds to challenge whether your conviction is an aggravated felony, or even whether it is a conviction at all.

Call us now to discuss your case. The sooner we get involved, the better.

About Our Firm

The Law Offices of David S. Santee is a Philadelphia-based law firm that represents individuals and businesses in a variety of immigration matters, including family-based applications for permanent residency and naturalization, employment-based immigrant and non-immigrant petitions, asylum petitions, and removal defense. We have  extensive experience with the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, having worked on more than 175 projects seeking EB-5 financing. Our firm’s founder, David S. Santee, Esquire, has nearly two decades of experience practicing law. A seasoned courtroom advocate, Mr. Santee is the former Director of Trial Advocacy Programs at Villanova University School of Law, where he continues to teach a course in Trial Advocacy as an Adjunct Professor. In addition to representing clients in immigration matters, Mr. Santee has also tried hundreds of criminal cases. He often represents individuals who are at risk of being removed from the United States due to pending or past criminal charges.

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See What Our Clients Have to Say

  • “I have had the privilege of working closely with Mr. Santee for over 5 years and have relied on his superb skills and excellent judgement to assist me in completing complex cases to successful outcomes. Our organization wouldn’t be where we are today without the strong relationship we have with Mr. Santee.”

    Thomas Martin Vice President, Baker Tilly Capital
  • “Mr. Santee represented me on my appeal. He got my conspiracy charge reduced and my sentence cut in half so that I ended up with time-served. He saved me four years of parole!”

    K.T. Lawncrest
  • "I thought I was going to die in prison. However, today I can see the light at the end of the tunnel because of the dedication and hard work of Attorney at Law David Santee. Anyone who is seeking true representation from an attorney who is not going to take your money and sell you out should consider David Santee because he will ensure your rights are protected."

    Luis Gonzalez Former Juvenile Lifer

More About Our Immigration Practice


Family Petitions

We represent individuals who are seeking to immigrate to the United States through a family member who is a United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident. This includes spouses, finances, children, siblings, and other family members.


Employment Petitions

We represent individuals who are seeking to travel or immigrate to the United States based on their employment status. This includes priority workers, skilled workers, professionals with advanced degrees, and foreign investors.


Removal Defense

We represent individuals in removal proceedings in Immigration Court. If you or a loved one has been served with a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court, contact us now to find out what defenses are available.

Based in Philadelphia
Serving all of Pennsylvania

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