Sentence And Conviction - Defined

The terms "Sentence" and "Conviction" are terms of art under the Immigration and Nationality Act. As such, do not assume that what you understand these terms to mean necessarily holds true in the Immigration context.

The Roldan case analyzes the meaning of the term "Conviction" as used in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The terms "Sentence" and "Term of Imprisonment", significantly, include any portion of the sentence which has been suspended. This is why people with really very minor crimes who actually served little or no time in jail suddenly find themselves labeled as aggravated felons when placed in Removal proceedings. Berke Law Offices is presently litigating the issue as to whether this definitional also applies to section 101(f)(7).

The terms are discussed at section 101(a)(48)(A) and (B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act which is quoted in full below:

Section 101(a)(48)(A) and (B)

(48)(A) The term "conviction" means, with respect to an alien, a formal judgment of guilt of the alien entered by a court or, if adjudication of guilt has been withheld, where-

(i) a judge or jury has found the alien guilty or the alien has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or has admitted sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilt, and

(ii) the judge has ordered some form of punishment, penalty, or restraint on the alien's liberty to be imposed.

(B) Any reference to a term of imprisonment or a sentence with respect to an offense is deemed to include the period of incarceration or confinement ordered by a court of law regardless of any suspension of the imposition or execution of that imprisonment or sentence in whole or in part. 16/