The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services maintains conditional bars to good moral character, which you must demonstrate to receive a green card. One type of bar to good moral character is a crime of moral turpitude.
Per the USCIS, a crime of moral turpitude is one that does not have an official statutory definition. To determine whether a crime rises to the level of moral turpitude, the courts refer to case law.
Crimes involving moral turpitude
Though extensive case law guides courts in matters possibly involving crimes of moral turpitude, most courts uphold a standard definition. These crimes are those that “shock the public’s conscience,” and are fundamentally vile, base or depraved. CIMT are crimes that go against the rules of morality and that violate the intrinsic duties one man has to another. Finally, these crimes involve willful and morally reprehensible conduct and are conducted with evil, reckless or malicious intent.
Types of crimes of moral turpitude
There are four general categories of CIMT. Those are as follows:
- Crimes against persons, such as statutory rape
- Crimes against property, such as theft, robbery and forgery
- Crimes against authority, such as counterfeiting and bribery
- Crimes that involve family or sexual violence
In cases involving crimes against persons, the offender must act recklessly and with criminal intent. To infer criminal intent, courts or authorities may look for the presence of unjustified violence or the use of a dangerous weapon. For crimes against property, the courts look for guilty knowledge or intent. For family and sexual crimes, the courts must establish the presence of violence.
A crime of moral turpitude can temporarily or permanently bar you from receiving a green card. For this reason, if an authority charged you with a crime of moral turpitude, it is crucial that you get help combatting it.