Moral turpitude

Moral turpitude

Moral turpitude is a legal concept in the United States that refers to "conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals."[1] It appears in U.S. immigration law from the nineteenth century.[2] In other common law jurisdictions it is dated or obsolete.[3]

The concept of moral turpitude escapes precise definition but has been described as an "act of baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man."[4] The specific acts that such a concept includes inevitably change over time, as general public acceptance or abhorrence of issues alters; for example, until recent times, a man engaged in homosexual behavior was still considered as engaging in "criminal behavior involving moral turpitude."[5]

The classification of a crime or other conduct as constituting moral turpitude has significance in several areas of law. First, prior conviction of a crime of moral turpitude (or in some jurisdictions, moral turpitude conduct, even without a conviction) is considered to have a bearing on the honesty of a witness and may be used for purposes of witness impeachment.[6] Second, moral turpitude offenses may be grounds to deny or revoke a professional license such as a teaching credential,[7] license to practice law,[8] or other licensed profession. Third, it is of great importance for immigration purposes, as offenses which are defined as involving moral turpitude are considered bars to immigration into the U.S.[9]


Use in United States immigration law

An arrest that does not lead to a conviction technically causes a person to be inadmissible (under the Visa Waiver Program) to the United States if that arrest was for an offense or crime involving moral turpitude or if they have multiple arrests or convictions where the possible jail time would be greater than five years under U.S.[clarification needed] law. There are Petty Offense exceptions to this rule, even if convicted, although these exceptions do not change the meaning of the question on the Visa Waiver Program and cannot be self-certified. A police caution for cannabis use would also deem a person inadmissible as this would be "a violation related to a controlled substance".[citation needed]

A CIMT (Crime Involving Moral Turpitude) causes the alien to be inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a)(2)(i)(I) on the INA (Immigration Nationality Act). A controlled substance violation causes the alien to be inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a)(2)(i)(II) of the INA. They are two different sections of the law. A controlled substance violation is a CIMT. The immigration administrative proceeding does not use a controlled substance violation as a CIMT. A visa waiver program applicant admissibility is determined at the port of entry and they are subject to section 212(a) and 217 of the INA.[citation needed]

Visa Waiver Program

The first question on document I-94W for those visiting the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program asks:

Have you ever been arrested or convicted for an offense or crime involving moral turpitude or a violation related to a controlled substance; or been arrested or convicted for two or more offenses for which the aggregate sentence to confinement was five years or more; or been controlled substance trafficker; or are you seeking entry to engage in criminal or immoral activities?

Little guidance is provided to the traveler as to which offenses are included in the definition; however the website of the U.S. embassy in London states that a visa is required for anyone who has ever been arrested or convicted for any offense.[10] This appears to be at variance with the question on form I-94W and information supplied by the US Department of Homeland Security as there are many offenses that are not considered to involve moral turpitude

U.S. government guidance on determining moral turpitude

A definition of moral turpitude is available for immigration purposes on the United States Department of State website.[11]

For offenses (or arrests on suspicion of such offenses) occurring outside the U.S., the locally defined offense must be considered against the U.S. definitions, and in such cases it is the definition of the offense (as defined in the appropriate country) which is considered for immigration purposes, and not the circumstances of the individual's actual case.[citation needed]

Category Crimes involving moral turpitude Crimes not involving moral turpitude
Crimes Against Property Fraud:
  • Making false representation
  • Knowledge of such false representation by the perpetrator
  • Reliance on the false representation by the person defrauded
  • An intent to defraud
  • The actual act of committing fraud

Evil intent:

  • Damaging private property (where intent to damage not required)
  • Breaking and entering (requiring no specific or implicit intent to commit a crime involving moral turpitude)
  • Passing bad checks (where intent to defraud not required)
  • Possessing stolen property (if guilty knowledge is not essential)
  • Joy riding (where the intention to take permanently not required)
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Trespassing
Crimes Committed Against Governmental Authority
Crimes Committed Against Person, Family Relationship, and Sexual Morality
  • Abandonment of a minor child (if willful and resulting in the destitution of the child)
  • Adultery (see INA 101** repealed by Public Law 97-116)
  • Assault (this crime is broken down into several categories, which involve moral turpitude):
    • Assault with intent to kill, commit rape, commit robbery or commit serious bodily harm
    • Assault with a dangerous or deadly weapon
  • Bigamy
  • Paternity fraud
  • Contributing to the delinquency of a minor
  • Gross indecency
  • Incest (if the result of an improper sexual relationship)
  • Kidnapping
  • Lewdness
  • Manslaughter:
    • Voluntary
    • Involuntary (where the statute requires proof of recklessness, which is defined as the awareness and conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustified risk which constitutes a gross deviation from the standard that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. A conviction for the statutory offense of vehicular homicide or other involuntary manslaughter only requires a showing of negligence will not involve moral turpitude even if it appears the defendant in fact acted recklessly)
  • Mayhem
  • Murder
  • Pandering
  • Prostitution
  • Rape (including "Statutory rape" by virtue of the victim's age)
  • Assault (simple) (i.e., any assault, which does not require an evil intent or depraved motive, although it may involve the use of a weapon, which is neither dangerous nor deadly)
  • Bastardy (i.e., the offense of begetting a bastard child)
  • Creating or maintaining a nuisance (where knowledge that premises were used for prostitution is not necessary)
  • Incest (when a result of a marital status prohibited by law)
  • Involuntary manslaughter (when killing is not the result of recklessness)
  • Libel
  • Mailing an obscene letter
  • Mann Act violations (where coercion is not present)
  • Riot
  • Suicide (attempted)
Attempts, Aiding and Abetting, Accessories and Conspiracy
  • An attempt to commit a crime deemed to involve moral turpitude
  • Aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime deemed to involve moral turpitude
  • Being an accessory (before or after the fact) in the commission of a crime deemed to involve moral turpitude
  • Taking part in a conspiracy (or attempting to take part in a conspiracy) to commit a crime involving moral turpitude where the attempted crime would not itself constitute moral turpitude.


From the United States Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual[11]

See also


  1. ^ Moral Turpitude: West's Encyclopedia of American Law
  2. ^ A Crime Involving Moral Turpitude! What in the World is That? US immigration and visa lawyers in London
  3. ^ Censure of Lord Melville. (Hansard, 8 April 1805) "...offences to which the charge of moral turpitude did not apply"
  4. ^ Chadwick v. State Bar, 49 Cal. 3d 103, 110, 776 P.2d 240, 260 Cal.Rptr. 538 (1989); Sosa-Martinez v. United States AG, 420 F.3d 1338, 1341 (11th Cir. 2005)
  5. ^ Knutson, D. C., Homosexuality and the Law, The Haworth press USA 1980
  6. ^ People v. Wheeler, 4 Cal.4th 284, 295-296, 841 P.2d 938, 14 Cal.Rptr.2d 418
  7. ^ Ballard v. Independent School Dist., 320 F.3d 1119 (10th Cir. 2003)
  8. ^ Chadwick v. State Bar, 49 Cal.3d 103, 776 P.2d 240, 260 Cal.Rptr. 538 (1989)
  9. ^ 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A); 8 CFR 316.10
  10. ^ "Visa Waiver Program: Additional Requirements". Retrieved 2010-09-05. 
  11. ^ a b United States Department of State. "U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 9 - Visas: 9 FAM 40.21(A) N2 Moral turpitude" (pdf). Retrieved 2008-12-07. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно решить контрольную?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • moral turpitude — moral tur·pi·tude / tər pə ˌtüd, ˌtyüd/ n 1: an act or behavior that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community 2: a quality of dishonesty or other immorality that is determined by a court to be present in the commission …   Law dictionary

  • moral turpitude — noun 1. : an act or behavior that gravely violates the moral sentiment or accepted moral standards of the community; especially : sexual immorality was considered unfit to hold office because of moral turpitude 2. : the morally culpable quality… …   Useful english dictionary

  • moral turpitude — Baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen or to society in general. Huff v Anderson, 212 Ga 32, 90 SE2d 329, 52 ALR2d 1310; Re Henry, 15 Idaho 755, 99 P 1054; State v Malusky, 59 ND 501,… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • moral turpitude — moral baseness, ethical ignobility …   English contemporary dictionary

  • moral turpitude — Synonyms and related words: abandon, abandonment, abjection, baseness, chicanery, corruptedness, corruption, corruptness, debasement, decadence, decadency, degeneracy, degenerateness, degeneration, degradation, demoralization, depravation,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • moral turpitude — 1. conduct that is regarded as immoral. 2. an instance of such conduct. [1875 80] * * * …   Universalium

  • moral turpitude — noun a) depravity b) Any base or vile conduct, contrary to accepted morals, that accompanies a crime …   Wiktionary

  • crime involving moral turpitude — See moral turpitude …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • crime of moral turpitude — See moral turpitude …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • turpitude — tur·pi·tude / tər pə ˌtüd, ˌtyüd/ n: inherent baseness or depravity; also: a base act Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. turpitude …   Law dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”