Could you be deported because you were convicted of a crime of moral turpitude?
A criminal conviction can be grounds for deportation. All immigrants including those applying for a visa or green card, those who already have a visa or green card, and those with green cards applying for US citizenship can be deported under US immigration laws. Criminal conduct is a common reason why immigrants are placed in removal proceedings, especially if they are convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.
There is no specific definition of a crime of moral turpitude (CMT) in US immigration law, but it generally refers to conduct that shocks the public conscience as being inherently base, vile or depraved. It conflicts with the rules of morality and the person committing the crime has been acting recklessly and often with evil intent. It is a concept that commonly includes crimes such as:
- Intent to harm persons or things
- Assault with intent to rob or kill
- Voluntary or reckless manslaughter
In order to be deported based on committing a CMT, the person must have been convicted within 5 years after entering the US. They also must have been sentenced to confinement for at least one year. A crime considered of moral turpitude in which a sentence of less than one year was imposed would not necessarily be considered grounds of deportation.
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In these types of situations, it is up to the Immigration Judge on a case-by-case basis to determine if it is a crime of moral turpitude. The Judge will usually look at both the language of the law under which the person was convicted and the actual records and facts surrounding the conviction. It is up to them to decide if the crime was intentional and if the offender should be deported from the US.
There are some situations in which you may be able to apply for a waiver under section 212(h) of the Immigration and Nationality Act or for cancellation of removal. Successfully filing a waiver after being convicted of a CMT will allow you to avoid deportation. It is important to consult an experienced immigration attorney if you have been put into deportation proceedings for a conviction of a crime of moral turpitude.
Crime of Moral Turpitude Additional Resources
- Is Shoplifting a Crime of Moral Turpitude?
- Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (ILRC)
- Practice Advisory: Ninth Circuit Holds Conviction under California Penal Code 243(d) is a Crime of Violence in U.S. v. Perez (ILRC – 8-06-19)
- Fact Sheet About Gubernatorial Pardons in California (ILRC – 6-04-19)
- Diversion and Immigration Law (ILRC – 5-29-19)
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening a firm specializing exclusively in US immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the US Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.
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