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Moral Character Crimes

Immigrant Criminal Defense Attorney


What is crime of moral turpitude and how does it affect immigrants facing criminal charges?

Good Moral Character

To become a US legal permanent resident or to become a naturalized US citizen, you will need to show you are and will be a trusted individual who has a good moral character.  A non-citizen's criminal record can result in statutory ineligibility to establish good moral character. One cannot establish good moral character if they have been inadmissible due to crimes relating to moral turpitude, controlled substances, prostitution, a 5-year sentence for two or more convictions, domestic violence, or smuggling of aliens. The Law Office of Wais Azami in Orange County is centrally located in Santa Ana to help assist as many people as possible.  

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

A crime involving moral turpitude (“CIMT”) has sometimes been defined as a depraved or immoral act, or a violation of the basic duties owed to fellow man, or recently as a “reprehensible act” with a men's rea of at least recklessness. Traditionally a CIMT involves intent to commit fraud, commit theft with intent to permanently deprive the owner, or inflict great bodily harm, as well as some reckless or malicious offenses and some offenses with lewd intent.  

However, for immigration purposes, the following crimes have been deemed to be CIMT:  

  • Murder
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Involuntary manslaughter, in some cases.
  • Evading with reckless disregard for public safety.
  • Battery by an inmate on a non-inmate.
  • Accessory after the fact.
  • Spousal abuse
  • Child abuse
  • Incest
  • Kidnaping
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Terrorist threats
  • Vandalism
  • Hit and run
  • Receiving stolen property. 
  • Burglary
  • The battery on a police officer.
  • Contributing to the delinquency of a minor. 
  • Escape (with or without violence).
  • Felony DUI's
  • Arson
  • Mayhem
  • Animal fighting
  • Theft
  • Fraud, and…
  • Conspiracy, attempt, or acting as an accessory to a crime if that crime involved moral turpitude.

Sex Crimes

Sex crimes include but are not limited to:

  • Child molestation
  • Rape
  • Sex trafficking 
  • Spousal rape
  • Prostitution 
  • Pimping and pandering
  • Lewd and lascivious acts on a child

Domestic Violence

The term “domestic violence” includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person's acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.

Other Deportable Offenses or Moral Character Causes

While this list is not exhaustive (complete), it provides a good idea of what else could cause major immigration problems: 

  • Sale or Possession of Controlled Substances
  • Firearms offenses 
  • Drug addiction or alcoholism 
  • Sentences of over years
  • Gambling 
  • Aggravated felonies
  • More than one misdemeanor can also affect moral character for immigration purposes, even if they are not the crimes listed above.  

Check out my YouTube Channel for a video on moral character crimes and immigration consequences for non-citizens.  


Law Office of Wais Azami | Orange County Criminal Defense, DUI & Personal Injury Attorney

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