Going to court in any capacity if you are undocumented is a source of worry for many immigrants. Whether it’s to report a crime or as a witness to one, appearing in court is a huge risk. That is why many immigrants ask the question: “will I get arrested if I’m illegal and I go to court?”
Though the question itself seems fairly simple, the answer is a bit more complex. Read on and see for yourself.
Going to Court as an Illegal Immigrant
If you are an illegal alien and you need to appear in court, how that will go for you depends on the reason for your appearance.
If You Have Been the Victim of a Crime
Many illegal aliens are afraid to go to the police and report a crime due to their undocumented status. However, if you are a victim of a crime or any type of abuse, you can report it.
The police have to look into it and ensure they protect you regardless of your status. Before you do anything, though, make sure you consult with an immigration lawyer. They will give you advice and tell you how to go about the situation.
If You Are a Witness
In the majority of the country, you should be able to testify in court without getting arrested for being undocumented. ICE and the court do not have the right to detain you, and your status has nothing to do with the matter.
However, the opposing legal team will try to use your status to discredit you. If you are undocumented, who can guarantee that you are not lying on the stand as well? Can they really trust you? Those are all the tricks they will use to tear down your testimony.
To testify without incriminating yourself, you should talk to an immigration lawyer before going to court. That will help you prepare.
If You Are Charged With Committing a Crime
The sad reality of America is this: if you are charged with any type of crime as an illegal alien, you will get in trouble as soon as the police learn about your status. ICE will intervene quickly, and the deportation proceedings will begin pretty soon. Though it’s a good idea to hire a lawyer, they will often not be able to do much in cases like these and you will most likely have to leave the country.
Whether you will be safe going to court as an illegal immigrant depends on the reason you have to go there in the first place. In any case, consulting an immigration lawyer before going to court or to the police is the best thing to do. That way, you will know you did everything in your power to be as safe as possible.