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What Are Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude?

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What Are Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude?

Everything You Need to Know About CIMT

Moral turpitude is a phrase used to define wicked, deviant behavior constituting an immoral, unethical, or unjust deviation from ordinary social standards such that it would shock a community. Although criminal courts have not clearly defined crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT), the case of United States v. Zimmerman helps describe conduct involving moral turpitude, which includes acts of “baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties” that an individual owes to another person or society in general.

Other interpretations of moral turpitude concern acts involving:

  • Bad character
  • Readiness to do evil
  • Misconduct committed without excuse
  • Any dishonest or immoral act, whether or not it’s a crime
  • A serious breach of a duty owed to another in society

To put it into perspective, crimes involving moral turpitude may include:

  • Violent crimes
    • Aggravated violent crimes
  • Sex crimes
  • Felonies
    • Aggravated felonies
  • Fraud
  • Offenses with lewd intent
  • Reckless or malicious offenses
  • Intent to commit great bodily harm

With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that crimes involving moral turpitude are often punished particularly harshly compared to other crimes. Because there is no straightforward and universally agreed-upon definition of CIMT, however, judges and juries may be subjective in determining whether or not a crime involves moral turpitude. The social standards and culture of a jurisdiction in which a defendant is tried may influence the court’s perception of moral turpitude in criminal contexts.

While CIMT is often used in immigration contexts, a conviction involving CIMT can carry professional consequences and even deem you an uncredible witness in other cases. Let’s take a closer look:

Immigration: Non-US citizens may have trouble or be prohibited from obtaining a visa or green card, and even risk deportation upon a CIMT conviction. Further, immigrants convicted of any CIMT may be denied re-entry into the US. Offenses such as murder, voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping, robbery, and aggravated assaults involve moral turpitude, according to the US Department of Justice, in addition to deeming conspiracy, attempt, or being an accessory as CIMT if the underlying offense involves moral turpitude.

Professional and occupational licenses: Professionals such as attorneys, nurses, doctors, and pilots may lose their licenses upon a CIMT conviction. These workers are held to higher standards than many other workers, as failing to properly fulfill their duties could injure or even kill innocent people. That is why committing a CIMT or any act of moral turpitude can have life-changing impacts. For instance, in legal ethics, an attorney who commits an act of moral turpitude in California may face penalties such as disbarment, license suspension, or criminal repercussions, ending a career that they worked so hard to establish.

Witness credibility: A person may be perceived as unreliable and uncredible if they are convicted or charged for a CIMT. Thus, if you are called as a witness for a legal proceeding, the prosecution can be brutal in questioning your credibility as a witness because of your past CIMT(s). Your testimony may be scrutinized or dismissed altogether as a result.

CIMT Accusations Require Trusted Defense.

If you have been accused of a crime involving moral turpitude, you must defend your freedom and future with the help of an attorney who is compassionate to your circumstances and dedicated to helping you resolve them. At the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed, our Oakland criminal defense lawyer is that, and more. For over a decade, we’ve helped numerous clients put their cases behind them and walk away free, therefore we encourage you to contact us at (510) 907-6600 to learn how we can help you achieve the same favorable outcome in your case.