One term that you will come across in immigration law is a “crime involving moral turpitude” which is commonly referred to as a CIMT. While this a widely used term by the courts and laws it is actually not defined by any statute which has made its exact definition a constant topic of debate. However, courts have generally found that CIMT’s are crimes involving violence and crimes that involve “baseness, vileness, and depravity”. Moreover, this has caused inherent problems relative to its application in immigration law and issues of removal or inadmissibility to the United States because many CIMT’s are relatively minor offenses that carry very little punishment, if any, in our penal system. For instance, non-citizens are subject to removal if convicted within five years of admission to the U.S. of a crime of moral turpitude carrying a possible sentence of one year or more, or if convicted at any time of two or more crimes of moral turpitude not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct regardless of the sentence imposed
Avoiding a Conviction of a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude
Some of the specific crimes that have been found to involve moral turpitude include murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, burglary, theft, domestic violence, shoplifting, any crime involving fraud such as passing bad checks and even some aggravated DWI offenses. Many of these crimes involve a specific “evil” intent, but this is not a requirement. Moreover, the determination of what constitutes a CIMT does not depend on the seriousness of the charge. For instance, a charge for receiving stolen property may involve moral turpitude even if the value of the property is trivial. In determining whether a crime involves moral turpitude, the court may look only at the statute under which an individual has been convicted, and not the person’s actual conduct. If the statute is divisible and contains some offenses that involve moral turpitude and some that do not, then the court may look to the record of conviction to determine which offense the person was charged. An experienced criminal immigration lawyer can often use this as a strategy at the time of the plea by making sure the factual basis of the crime clearly states that the offense was the result of negligence or recklessness rather than done intentionally. If you or your family member has been charged with a crime involving moral turpitude then contact us today at (732) 450-8300 for a free consultation regarding your rights and options.