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What is the crime of moral turpitude?

On Behalf of | Apr 23, 2024 | Criminal Defense

When immigrants are charged with crimes, they often worry about getting deported. The actual criminal charges may be secondary. They are worried about being removed from the United States, where they have a family, where they have been attending school or where they have a job and a career.

But not all criminal activities are going to trigger a deportation. Someone may get charged with driving under the influence, for instance, and just have to pay a fine. The government typically reserves deportation for crimes involving moral turpitude. So what does that mean?

An ambiguous concept

The problem with “moral turpitude” is that you can trace its origins all the way back to 1809, and the term has evolved over time. This means that it is now ambiguous, rather than being something with a strict legal definition.

In general, though, a crime of moral turpitude is something that is “contrary to justice.” It may be considered depraved or immoral. It’s a very serious crime, not something minor that anyone may experience.

This can apply to both felony or misdemeanor charges. But it’s typically something intentional and serious, such as murder, aggravated assault or a major type of theft. It could also include things like drug distribution, human trafficking or embezzlement.

What are your options?

Have you been accused of a crime of moral turpitude? You may be worried about facing deportation, especially if you believe that what you did was not nearly serious enough to warrant it. If you are in this position, your entire future is on the line, so it’s very important for you to understand exactly what legal options you have.