What happens if someone is arrested on a tourist visa?

Carlos writes, "I am currently in the United States on a visitor visa and after a night of partying, I got caught for driving under the influence (DUI).  After my arrest I was released and asked to appear in court (I guess my having a good attorney and my being a professional helped) but my pretrial hearing does not start for at least 5 weeks.  In the meantime, however, I need to get back home due to my work and family commitments.  There is no way I can attend this trial without jeopardizing my employment.  If I simply leave the US without telling anyone, what will happen?  Will I be able to return to the US?"

In some cases when the authorities assume that you are an American (it is simply a judgment by the officials involved) and if you do not volunteer the information about your immigration status, one can end up in a situation like yours.  Being a foreigner on a visitor visa, you should have never been released because you are a flight risk.  If you were released, you would have been asked to surrender your passport so that you would not be able to leave the country.

If you simply get on a plane and leave (very easy to do since US has no exit immigration and except for a few high profile criminals, most names are not entered into a no fly list, and individuals can always simply walk through the Mexico border and fly out of there), this would be your last visit to the country.  In your absence, your case will be decided by the courts, and if convicted, most likely no one will be pleased what a big mistake they made and they will then make sure that your name is listed in all sorts of databases.  That would guarantee that you would not be issued any visas in the future or if you still have a visa in your passport, that would be revoked, so that when you arrive at the airport in the US again, you will be immediately arrested, particularly because your fingerprints during the OUI arrest and at the border patrol checkpoint will match perfectly.  So if it is fine with you that you will lose the chance to visit the US in the future, this might be a strategy, but a better option would be to simply deal with this matter.  In addition to having a criminal DUI attorney you must also hire a lawyer who deals with immigration matters.  An arrest for DUI and conviction would typically erase your probability of ever being able to visit the US but going through a trial and not being a fugitive does provide some hope for a slightly more positive outcome.