Charged with a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude

If you are undocumented, on a non-immigrant visa, or a lawful permanent resident, and you are arrested, you should contact an immigration attorney, along with a criminal defense attorney.

Hiring an immigration attorney from the outset of a criminal case is a good idea because an immigration attorney can evaluate your criminal charges and advise whether they’ll be problematic for your immigration situation. An immigration attorney can also help your criminal defense attorney in brainstorming alternative, less problematic charges.

For example:

  • Certain ‘obstruction of justice,’ charges are CIMTs, an immigration attorney could suggest other charges.
  • Some DUIs are CIMTs; an immigration attorney can suggest alternative charges, such as reckless driving, that may be less problematic than a DUI.

In addition to negotiating a better charge, you’ll also want to be mindful of your sentence. Certain sentences are more problematic than others.

Petty Offense Exception

If you must plead guilty to a CIMT, then you can try to get a favorable sentence to avail yourself of the ‘petty offense exception.’ The ‘petty offense exception’ says that you can have one conviction for a CIMT and it won’t affect your case if the following criteria are met:

  • Maximum Possible Penalty: the maximum possible penalty for the crime was one year or less (depending on the state statute some felonies may qualify and some misdemeanors may not); AND
  • Actual Penalty: you were sentenced to a term of imprisonment of six months or less, regardless of how much time you actually served.

If both of these criteria are met, then you qualify for the ‘petty offense exception’ and will not need to apply for a waiver for your CIMT. You can only use the ‘petty offense exception’ once, so if you have two CIMT convictions, then you’ll have to apply for a waiver.

Whether or not a particular charge is a CIMT is dependent on the criminal statute of each state; if you can obtain advice from an experienced immigration attorney before you plead guilty to a crime, it could be extremely beneficial to you in your future immigration matters.

Convicted of a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude

If you have been arrested or convicted of any offense, you should consult an immigration attorney before applying for any immigration benefits. An immigration attorney will evaluate your conviction history to determine if any of your convictions make you inadmissible or deportable. If you have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, it may make you inadmissible or deportable.

If you have been convicted of a CIMT that makes you inadmissible, and you do not qualify for the ‘petty offense exception,’ you may be eligible for a waiver.

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides for the waiver of a CIMT if the applicant is:

  • The spouse, parent, son or daughter of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and
  • The applicant can demonstrate that a denial would result in extreme hardship to their U.S. citizen or lawfully resident spouse, parent, son, or daughter.

Additionally, if you must apply for a waiver, there are a variety of things that you can do show immigration that you are a good person.

If you have a criminal arrest history, please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced in cases with criminal convictions and involving crimes involving moral turpitude. Please feel free to call us at 510-574-7377 to see how we can help!