Justin Bieber has been making headlines this week after allegedly egging his neighbor’s house and causing $20,000 in damages to the luxurious mansion in Calabasas, California. His reported behavior could lead to the levying of felony charges against Bieber and now rumors are circulating that the 19-year-old native of Canada could even be deported in the wake of this developing scandal. Bieber is in the U.S. on a visa that is specially granted to people possessing “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.”
Under California law, vandalism resulting in more than $400 worth of damages is treated as a felony and carries a potential penalty of between one and three years in jail, not to mention a whole host of possible fines and penalties. Thanks to the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, immigrants in this country can also face deportation if convicted of committing certain crimes.
So what does this mean for pop-sensation Bieber? It’s not yet quite clear, but experts say that while deportation is certainly a possibility, it isn’t a conclusion that should be jumped to just yet. For one thing, the Biebs hasn’t even been charged with anything at this point. Assuming he is charged with a crime, and that is a pretty big assumption right now, he would also have to be charged with a felony in order to face the possibility of deportation.
It is possible that a District Attorney filing charges against Bieber could use prosecutorial discretion and decide to treat the case as some sort of lesser misdemeanor crime. Further, even if Bieber were charged with a felony, it would have to be what is known as an “aggravated” felony in order to raise the possibility of deportation. Generally, an aggravated felony is one involving a much greater offense than the egging of a house, but it is theoretically possible that Bieber’s crime could be classified as one “of moral turpitude” and thus trigger the risk of deportation.
Ultimately, though, most weighing in on the case seem to feel that the deportation of Bieber probably isn’t going to happen. Deportation cases are pursued civilly and the likelihood of the U.S. government taking the expending the time, money and effort just to rid the nation of a pop star making a nuisance of himself seems pretty low. It appears much more likely that if Bieber does face charges, they are likely to result in some community service and fines rather than the possibility of hard time or deportation. Whether the likelihood of an easy penalty is because he is a first time offender or because of his worldwide fame and vast monetary resources depends on who is asked.
This isn’t Bieber’s first run in with the law since he has been residing in the U.S. Last summer it was reported that the teen sensation took part in the beating of a 22-year-old man at a club in the Hamptons. If charges of assault and battery had stuck in that case, it might be a whole different ball game for Bieber this time around. Fortunately for the star and his nation of Beliebers, nothing came of it, and with most saying that nothing much will come of it this time around either, it looks like the Biebs will be safe on American soil and free from the threat of deportation.
By Michele Wessel