The United States, and even local states such as California have laws that every person in the United States must follow. Some of these laws would be considered low level offenses such as a speeding ticket or parking violation. Crimes that a person would not typically go to jail for committing. Usually a violation of these low-level crimes would result in some sort of monetary fine. The high-level crimes, these crimes are known as Crimes of Moral Turpitude.
These are the crimes that if a person is found guilty of committing would face years in jail. For a foreign national living in the state of California for example, committing a Crime of Moral Turpitude could lead to the foreign national being deported back to his or her home country, along with other serious punishments.
Not only is there an immediate threat of prison associated with crimes of moral turpitude but being convicted of such a crime can have a long-term affect. Being convicted of a crime of moral turpitude may prevent a foreign national from becoming a US citizen, becoming a legal permanent resident (Green Card holder), or even apply for an Adjustment of Status.
Other consequences of committing a Crime of Moral Turpitude include issue with credibility. This applies for citizens, legal permanent residents, non-immigration visa holders, and even illegal immigrants. If a person who committed a crime of moral turpitude is ever called to testify at a trial (witness), the opposing lawyer may let the jury know that the witness had committed a crime of moral turpitude. This may affect the credibility of the witness and may hurt the testimony of the witness.
There is no real definition of what a Crime of Moral Turpitude is. It all depends on the type of crime that was committed, the judge overseeing the trial, and how the prosecutor handles the case. Usually though, such a crime involves: dishonesty, fraud, and/ or anti-social behavior that harms others
With all that said, below is a list of some of the major offenses in California that have been held to be Crimes of Moral Turpitude:
Assault with Intent to commit murder
Attempted lewd acts on a minor
Domestic violence when committed against your spouse
Failure to register as a sex offender
Felon in possession of a firearm
Felony hit and run
Grand theft auto
Possession for sale of controlled substances
Receiving stolen property
Involuntary manslaughter (in some cases)
Conspiracy, attempt, or acting as an accessory to a crime if that crime involved moral turpitude.
This is a legal blog. It is not intended to be used as legal advice. For further information please contact the law offices of attorney Ramona Kennedy.
Ramona Kennedy is a member of the California State Bar.