What is a crime involving moral turpitude? If you or someone you know has recently been arrested for a crime you may have heard this term thrown around. A crime involving moral turpitude is not a specific offense. Instead, a crime involving moral turpitude is a classification that can be assigned to a crime. If the crime you have been charged with is classified as a crime of moral turpitude you could face additional consequences. These consequences can limit your credibility as a witness, cause you to lose professional licenses, and even result in your deportation from the country.
Defining Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude
There is not set statutory definition for a crime involving moral turpitude. Instead, the definition has emerged and evolved in court decisions over the years. Crimes involving moral turpitude have been defined to be those crimes that involve conduct that is reckless, evil, and/or morally reprehensible. Specifically, a crime may be considered a crime involving moral turpitude if it has any of the following characteristics:
- Shocking to the public conscience;
- Vile or depraved;
- Contrary to the rules, morality, and duties of society.
Again, a crime can be classified as a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT). A judge and/or jury will be presented with the facts of a case and asked to determine if the defendant’s conduct was so vile that the crime should be classified as a CIMT. The judge and/or jury will consider all of the evidence of the case and make a decision.
Examples of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude
Many crimes can be classified as a crime involving moral turpitude. Each classification will be done on a case-by-case basis. This means that a crime that is classified as a CIMT in one case may or may not be classified as a CIMT in another case. If there is a debate, the determination will often come down to the defendant’s state of mind and intent. Acts that are done with evil intent or recklessly will generally warrant CIMT classification. Crimes that are often classified as crimes involving moral turpitude include:
- Spousal and child abuse;
- Paternity fraud;
- Aggravated kidnapping;
- Aggravated assault;
- Pandering; and
Crimes Excluded From Classification as a CIMT
In California, certain crimes are explicitly prohibited from being classified as a crime involving moral turpitude. This means that the consequences of a CIMT cannot be imposed if you are convicted of any of the following crimes without any aggravating factors:
- Domestic violence, when the victim is not your spouse;
- First-time DUI offenses;
- Involuntary manslaughter;
- Simple marijuana possession;
- Simple assault;
- False imprisonment.
Consequences of a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude
What happens when a criminal charge is classified as a crime involving moral turpitude? What additional consequences can you expect to suffer if you are convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude? The answer will depend on the crime itself and your existing criminal record. However, there are three main consequences of a conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude: immigration, professional, and witness credibility.
Immigration Consequences: A conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude can affect your ability to acquire or maintain a green card or visa. This means that you may be prohibited from entering the country legally or, if you are already present, you may be deported. This can have disastrous consequences for you and your family.
Professional Licenses: Certain jobs require that you receive and maintain a professional license. Educators, attorneys, and doctors are a few examples of professionals who could face adverse consequences if they are convicted of a CIMT. Many professional boards will suspend or revoke these professional licenses if a practitioner is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. This can prevent you from bringing in the money you need to get by and unnecessarily complicate your life.
Witness Credibility: A conviction for a CIMT can limit your effectiveness as a reliable witness. When you are called to testify as a witness in a legal proceeding you will face a great deal of scrutiny. When you have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, opposing counsel can use this to impeach your credibility as a witness. This essentially means that they can use your prior crime to undermine what you say in a legal proceeding.
Fighting Criminal Charges in Los Angeles
Are you facing criminal charges in Los Angeles? Could the charges against you be classified as a crime involving moral turpitude? If so, a conviction could have devastating consequences. Call the Rodriguez Law Group to schedule a free consultation. We will review your case, explain the possible consequences of a conviction, and answer any questions you have.