Steven A. Goldstein, Esq.

09/23/09

Any person who is not a United States citizen can be removed (deported) from the United States due to arrests and/or convictions for Crimes involving moral turpitude, 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2).

The Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) contains a law that makes a non-citizen removable if convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude (“CIMT”) committed within five years after the date of admission and resulting in a sentence of imprisonment for at least one year. If; however, a non-citizen is convicted of two CIMT’s not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct, the date committed or the sentence is not relevant and that person can be placed in removal proceedings regardless of the date of the convictions.

The INA does not define crimes involving moral turpitude. Whether a particular crime is a CIMT is a question of law. Crimes of moral turpitude are generally those that re debase and vile and that violate ethical prohibitions. The statute under which the non-citizen is convicted controls the determination of whether the crime is a CIMT. Below is a general list of examples of crimes previously found to be CIMT’s:

· Crimes against the person:
– Involving moral turpitude: murder; voluntary or reckless manslaughter, kidnapping, attempted murder and assault with intent to rob or kill or to commit abortion or rape
– Not involving moral turpitude: involuntary manslaughter; simple assault and battery; attempted suicide and libel

· Sexual offenses:
– Involving moral turpitude: rape; adultery; bigamy; prostitution; lewdness; sodomy; abortion; possession of child pornography
– Not involving moral turpitude: bastardy; fornication; incest and indecent exposure.

· Crimes against property:
– Burglary is a CIMT if the intended offense involves moral turpitude.
– If the underlying offense is a CIMT, then a conviction for aiding in the commission of the crime or acting as an accessory before the fact is also a CIMT.
– A theft offense (including receipt of stolen property) may be a CIMT but not if the theft is with intent to only temporarily deprive the owner of his or her property.

· Crimes involving fraud:
– Any crime involving fraud is almost always a crime of moral turpitude, whether against government or individuals, except for false statements not amounting to perjury.
– Involving moral turpitude: making false statements to obtain a passport or for naturalization; making false statements to obtain a driver’s license; making a false statement on a firearm application; passing bad checks; false representation of a Social Security number, money laundering.
– Not involving moral turpitude: structuring financial transactions in order to avoid currency reports

· Violations of regulatory laws:
– Violations of regulatory laws are generally not crimes of moral turpitude.

Ideally, an individual who is not a United States citizen and is accused of a crime should retain an immigration attorney or a criminal defense attorney who also practices immigration law to ensure that any decision with regard to the criminal defense comports with the best interests of their immigration status.

It is important to retain a competent immigration attorney experienced in representing individuals in deportation defense for crimes involving moral turpitude if you are placed in removal proceedings due to a criminal conviction. Removal or deportation from the United States for a crime or crimes involving moral turpitude carry with it severe penalties resulting in the inability to return to the United States in any capacity.