Defining Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Defining Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a crime of moral turpitude can cause the denial of a person’s application for a visa or green card, as well as the removal of an immigrant with a visa or green card from the U.S. Conviction of a crime of moral turpitude also can result in the denial of an application for U.S. citizenship for an immigrant who already has a green card. There is no specific definition in the INA as to what crimes specifically qualify as a crime of moral turpitude. However, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has issued written opinions that define a crime of moral turpitude as conduct that shocks the public conscience as inherently base, vile, immoral, or depraved. Whether a crime is one of moral turpitude depends on the language in the criminal statute under which the individual was convicted. There have been BIA decisions that found the following crimes to be crimes of moral turpitude:
  • Murder
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Rape
  • Spousal abuse
  • Child abuse and incest
  • Kidnapping
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Arson
  • Mayhem
  • Animal fighting
  • Theft, fraud, blackmail, embezzlement, and extortion
  • Conspiracy or attempt to commit any of these listed crimes
The most common elements of a crime of moral turpitude are fraud, larceny, and intent to harm a person or property. If a crime involves dishonesty, theft, or a clear threat of harm to another person, it is likely to be a crime of moral turpitude. Most crimes of moral turpitude are designed to harm property, another person, or a governmental entity. Whatever type of crime is involved, the conduct must be reckless or intentional in nature in order to qualify as a crime of moral turpitude. Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C. is an Oakland immigration law firm who has dedicated their practice to protecting the interests of immigrants who are facing deportation. Whether you are potentially deportable due to a visa overstay or a lack of valid immigration status, we can help. We are prepared to build the strongest case possible in order to defend you against deportation. Contact us today to set up your legal consultation and discover what assistance we can offer to you and your family.
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