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Visiting Japan with a misdemeanor - 11-09-2017, 04:54 AM

Hi, I have a misdemeanor on my record from January 2012 for a petty theft for something really stupid and dumb I did. I was wondering if this will show up at all when I enter Japan and go through immigration.

I already asked the embassy for help and they said they could not provide an accurate answer. Also from my understanding Japan only bars traveling with drug offenses or crimes that carry a year or more in jail, which my charge does not.

This is my second time visiting Japan. I visited in May of 2014 and I checked no on the embarkment card for the question involving have you ever been convicted of a crime. I had no issues entering but since then I read that Japan approved some sort of agreement with the USA to share all criminal fingerprint data to prevent and deter crime. Something that they did not have access to before.

My lawyer told me to continue to check no on the landing card because even though my charge does not constitute an offense which would deny entry, that by checking yes I am taking an unnecessary risk for an immigration officer who is having a bad day and who can technically deny me entry at their discretion. I just want peace of mind. Peace of mind that nothing bad will happen when I enter this country again because the costs associated with it are already laid out and I am losing sleep over it. Any advice or assurance would be greatly appreciated.
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11-09-2017, 06:46 AM

If you visited before and checked "no" on your card, and were not denied entry, then doing so again will do less harm than checking "yes". Checking "yes" now would mean that you checked the wrong box when you entered in 2014, which would be a bigger problem than clicking "no" now.

The embassy will not be able to give you an answer because bureaucrats in Japan are always afraid of giving the wrong one.

Technically-speaking (and I say this as a former police officer), the word "convicted" is somewhat different than "pled no contest to", which is usually the case with minor misdemeanors. You could check "no" on the box, and in the very unlikely event you were called out, you can state that you were not actually convicted, but "pled no contest", or assumed responsibility for the offense.

I would not lose sleep about the problem. Unless the charge is related to drugs, domestic violence, or a DUI, they are not going to prevent your entering. And in the case of a DUI, Japan will not deny you entry, though other countries (like Canada) will not let you in.

It has been 5 years since your offense, if you have kept your nose clean, you should be trying to get the offense expunged from your record. An internet search should be able to point out an attorney who can do this for you. it is worth whatever time and expense is involved. Once that is done, the record no longer exists, and you can honestly and legally check "no" in the box. Someone I know was able to get a felony manslaughter conviction removed from his record 10 years after he was released from jail, getting a petit theft charge removed should be easy enough.
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11-09-2017, 01:40 PM

Technically speaking, I have another misdemeanor petty theft from 2009 on my record which resulted in an adjudication withheld, and because I live in Florida, I can not have either of them expunged for life because it is two misdemeanors. Sad thing was I young and ignorant and it was over a pack of trading cards as well. Really stupid to mess your life up over that. Since the one in 2012 over 5 years ago I have gotten my life together, got my college degree, bought a car, have a good job now, got my health together, and I even plan on proposing in December in Japan.
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11-10-2017, 11:39 PM

If you want to get ahead in life, you must always slow down and think. When making a choice, you need to think about the potential benefits or consequences of that choice.

I used to work in law enforcement, and have seen young people rob a store using a gun to steal $50. At the least, they are risking 20 years in prison, at the worst, they are risking their lives. They could earn $50 working a single shift at McDonald's, but that never seems to occur to them.

Your life right now is the result of all the choices you have made up until this point. If you want a successful or at least a decent life, you need to think about what such a life would be like, and make the day-to-day choices which will take you there.

When I was young, I did a lot of stupid things. Sometimes I was caught, usually I wasn't. But I learned that you never get away with doing bad things, and even if you don't get caught, fate has a way of punishing you in other ways.

If adjudication was withheld on your first misdemeanor, then it technically does not exist. If the second one didn't result in a jail sentence, then it can be overlooked. You might still be able to get your record expunged, you should talk to an attorney to find out. Even if the court says no, you can always try to contact the state representative in your district (local state senator), and ask them if they can help. They have written "acts" which grant one-time exceptions or allowances for problems like yours. These guys work for you, and you should be able to make an appointment with one of them.

Good luck, and congrats on your proposal. Enjoy your trip to Japan, be careful, or you may end up liking it so much that you move here, as I did.
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11-11-2017, 02:47 AM

I agree. I own my mistakes. I can't take them back or change the past but only make a better future. Since the 6 years that passed I got my life together, I bought a car, fixed my credit, got a high paying job, got in shape, and went to college and got my bachelors degree. The person in the past is who I was not who I am now. I simply don't have a excuse for what happened.

In any case, in Florida, a withheld is still considered a conviction of guilt and since its 2 convictions I can not have either removed. I already consulted with lawyers and my congressman.


My main question is that you do not think the chargers will effect my trip correct? Thanks again!
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