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Deportation Defense for Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

by: Justin Burton

A Joliet Immigration Lawyer Is Here To Help

If you are currently living in the United States under an immigrant visa, it is important to learn more about reasons for deportation and removal. Under Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and Section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, immigrants can be deported in certain circumstances. One of the more common reasons for deportation is being convicted of a certain type of crime. As the website for the U.S. Department of Justice and the Offices of the United States Attorneys explains, one of the categories of crimes for which an alien can be deported is called a “crime of moral turpitude.” What is a crime of moral turpitude, and how can a Chicago immigration lawyer assist with your deportation defense if you have been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude?

Learning More About How the Law Defines a “Crime of Moral Turpitude”

How does the law define “moral turpitude”? As the U.S. Department of Justice explains, the term is a difficult one “to define with precision.” Generally speaking, however, case law has clarified what moral turpitude means, and a wide variety of crimes may fit into this category. According to the Justice Department, the term broadly refers to “a nebulous concept, which refers generally to conduct that shocks the public conscience.” Numerous types of offenses have been known to fit into this category, including but not limited to:

  • Murder;
  • Voluntary manslaughter;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Robbery; and
  • Aggravated assault.

Notably, crimes that do not involve deadly weapons (for example, drug possession) typically are not considered to be crimes of moral turpitude. However, crimes that have the “intent to defraud,” even if there is no dangerous weapon involved, often have been deemed to be crimes of moral turpitude.

You might be wondering whether the term “crime of moral turpitude” is too broad or vague and thus unconstitutional. This question has arisen previously, and courts have determined that a crime “involving moral turpitude” is not too vague so as to be unconstitutional. In fact, the recent Seventh Circuit case of Dominguez-Pulido v. Lynch (2016) reaffirmed that a “crime involving moral turpitude” is not unconstitutionally vague.

How Crimes of Moral Turpitude Can Result in a Judicial Order of Deportation

Under 8 U.S.C. § 1251(a)(2)(A)(i), if an immigrant (an “alien” under the law, or a person who does not have citizenship) is “convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude committed within five years from the date of entry, and sentenced to confinement or confined therefor for one year or longer,” then that person can be subject to deportation.

It is important to acknowledge that “entry” does not simply mean the person’s first entry into the United States. To be sure, the term “entry” has been construed broadly under the law so that, “although the conviction must occur within five years of entry, any entry into the United States may be used to support the charge of deportability.”

Discuss Your Deportation Defense with an Immigration Lawyer in Chicago

If you were convicted of a crime of moral turpitude and are now facing a judicial order of deportation, an experienced Chicago immigration attorney can discuss your options with you for building a strong defense. We may be able to obtain a stay of deportation while we work on your case and consider options for helping you to remain in the United States. Contact Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC for more information.

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