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What is a Crime of Moral Turpitude?

by: Justin Burton

A crime of moral turpitude is not a specific charge. Rather, it is a category of offenses that are characterized by their basis in immoral intent. Crimes of moral turpitude can be misdemeanor or felony-level offenses. For a US citizen, conviction of this type of offense can result in fines and jail time. For a lawful permanent resident or an individual in the country on a visa, it can result in removal from the United States.

If you are a non-citizen facing a criminal charge, it is important that you work with a lawyer who not only understands the criminal justice process, but has experience defending immigrants who are facing removal actions.

Violent, Depraved Offenses are Crimes of Moral Turpitude

The term “crime of moral turpitude” is defined as an offense that “ shocks the public conscience as being inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the rules of morality and the duties owed between man and man, either one’s fellow man or society in general,” according to the Board of Immigration Appeals. This is a subjective definition, which can mean that a specific offense may be defined by one judge as a crime of moral turpitude while another judge would not deem it to be so. A few examples of offenses that could be considered to be crimes of moral turpitude include:

  • Fraud;
  • Robbery;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Manslaughter;
  • Conspiracy;
  • Domestic violence;
  • Murder;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Aggravated assault; and
  • Theft offenses.

The key to defining an offense as a crime of moral turpitude is determining whether the offender acted with “evil intent.” If the court cannot prove that the defendant acted in an intentionally vile, depraved, or otherwise cruel manner, it may not find him or her to be guilty of a crime of moral turpitude. The lack of such evidence can keep an individual in the country, even if he or she is convicted of a criminal offense.

Deportation as a Penalty for a Crime of Moral Turpitude Conviction

When an individual is deported for a conviction of a crime of moral turpitude, he or she can be prevented from reentering the United States for anywhere from five to 20 years. In many cases, individuals are banned from reentering the country for life. This can put strains on their families and communities.

Work with an Experienced Chicago Immigration Lawyer

If you are charged with a crime of moral turpitude, you could be facing removal from the United States. Work with an experienced immigration lawyer to determine the right strategy for your case, because you are not only dealing with criminal law, but with immigration law. Contact our team at Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC today to schedule your initial consultation in our office.

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