Written by attorney Jeffrey Dean Joseph

What is a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude?

1) a.) Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT).

i) Definition of crime involving moral turpitude:

The term “crime of moral turpitude" is not defined in the statute,but there is case law,which gives some guidance. The phrase “moral turpitude" refers to conduct which is inherently base,vile,or depraved,contrary to accepted rules of morality." See Matter of Franklin, 20 I & N Dec. 867, 868 (BIA 1994);.Matter of T-, 2 I&N Dec. 22 (BIA 1944).

The definition of moral turpitude was recently modified to require “both reprehensible conduct and some degree of scienter,whether specific intent,deliberateness,willfulness,or recklessness." Matter of Silva-Trevino,24 I&N Dec. 687,697 (AG 2008).

ii) Evil intent crimes involve moral turpitude. Matter of Serna, 20 I&N Dec. 579, 582 (BIA 1992).

iii) Knowledge or intent crimes most often involve moral turpitude. Matter of Khourn, 21 I&N Dec. 1041 (BIA 1997).

iv) Reckless conduct can constitute moral turpitude. Matter of Franklin, 20 I&N Dec. 867 (BIA 1994)(involuntary manslaughter).

v) Negligence and strict liability,usually does not involve moral turpitude (exception for statutory rape).

vi) Larceny and theft,whether petty or grand,has uniformly been held to involve moral turpitude. Matter of T- 2 I&N Dec. 22 (BIA 1944) (citing Tillinghas v. Edmead, 31 F.2d 81 (C.C.A. 1 1929); United Statesex rel. Rizzio v. Kenney, 50 F.2d 418 (D.C. Conn. 1931).

vii) Fraud crimes involve moral turpitude. Jordan v. DeGeorge, 341U.S. 223 (1951).

viii) Other crimes held to involve moral turpitude: murder,manslaughter,kidnapping,rape (including statutory rape),aggravated assault,assault with a deadly weapon,adultery,sexual assault,incest,willful infliction of corporal injury on a spouse,forgery,issuing bad checks with guilty knowledge,robbery,theft,shoplifting,arson,prostitution,distribution of drugs,and burglary with intent to commit a crime involving moral turpitude.

ix) Conspiracy or attempt to commit a crime involving moral turpitude qualify as convictions for a CIMT. Matter of Short, 20 I&N Dec. 136, 138 n.1 (BIA 1989).

x) Crimes held NOT to involve moral turpitude: alien smuggling,reentry after deportation,drug possession offenses,simple assault,some weapons possession offenses,joyriding,disorderly conduct,mostmisdemeanor traffic offenses,DWAI/DUI.

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