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What is a crime of moral turpitude?

On Behalf of | Dec 11, 2023 | IMMIGRATION & NATURALIZATION - Criminal Defense

Immigrants who want to stay in the United States must meet certain standards. Typically, they need to establish that they have good moral character. Every stage of the immigration process usually involves a criminal background check to screen for those who lack good moral character.

Certain mistakes that lead to criminal prosecution could raise questions about someone’s good moral character. Minor violations of the law, like traffic offenses, typically do not have much bearing on an immigrant’s rights. However, more serious infractions can affect someone’s eligibility for a green card or naturalization in the future. Crimes of moral turpitude are among the criminal offenses that could affect someone’s immigration options. What kind of criminal activity can lead to allegations of moral turpitude?

Moral turpitude is somewhat subjective

Those reviewing immigration paperwork might make negative decisions when someone has a criminal record. Violations of drug laws, prostitution, habitual drunkenness and even polygamy can affect someone’s moral character for immigration purposes.

Immigration professionals can also make unfavorable decisions when someone has one or more crimes involving moral turpitude on their record. Moral turpitude means that the act is contrary to community moral standards. Criminal acts that involve deceit, fraud or deliberate violence might all constitute moral turpitude.

Charges ranging from burglary to domestic violence could seem like crimes of moral turpitude depending on who reviews an applicant’s immigration paperwork. The best way to avoid immigration consequences for a criminal offense is to defend against the charges and avoid having a criminal record. With that said, discussing pending criminal charges with a legal professional may help people identify when accusations could affect their immigration options.