The United States is home to over 44 million immigrants, providing them with liberty and opportunity. Because they are staying in the country, they must obey the laws of the country. Otherwise, they could face deportation. The problem is when foreign nationals do not fully understand the laws and the civil rights that protect them from conviction.
In the U.S., a criminal conviction does not necessarily and automatically result in deportation. They still have a chance to defend their case. Deportation for a criminal conviction should only happen when a person commits an aggravated felony or a crime of moral turpitude.
What is a crime of moral turpitude?
A crime of moral turpitude does not have a clear legal definition and is not a specific offense on its own. Instead, it describes the intent behind the criminal actions and the nature of the crime. Crimes of moral turpitude are usually those a person commits with a clear objective to hurt, deceive or defraud another person. Here are some examples of crimes involving moral turpitude:
- Domestic abuse
- Child pornography and child abuse
- Drug trafficking
- Aggravated assault
- Failure to register as a sex offender
- Felony hit-and-run
A crime involving moral turpitude goes against the rules of morality and is shocking to the public conscience because of its evil and vile character. It is not an offense that happens because of an accident or innocent mistake.
What does it mean for immigrants who have criminal convictions?
An immigrant will go through a legal proceeding before deportation, where they can prove why they should stay in the United States. They will have a chance to prove the criminal conviction did not involve a crime of moral turpitude. All immigrants have a right to a fair trial and to defend themselves against deportation.