February 9, 2021 | Criminal Law
Crimes, in general, represent acts that society has deemed unacceptable to such a serious degree that they are punishable by law. State crimes are written and passed by elected officials of that state.
But a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) is not a specific crime. It is a category of crimes that includes especially serious types of criminal offenses.
How Does the Law Define Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude?
It has historically been left up to the interpretation of legal definitions and judicial precedent to determine what counts as a CIMT.
Over time, courts have determined that crimes involving moral turpitude are those in which a person acts recklessly or in an evil and morally reprehensible manner. Crimes may be considered crimes involving moral turpitude if they:
- Are shocking to the conscience
- Are a grave violation of socially-accepted behavior
- Are vile or depraved acts
That’s about as clear as mud, isn’t it? Exactly what are crimes involving moral turpitude?
The ultimate decision about whether a crime involves moral turpitude depends on the facts of the case, the language of the criminal statute under which a defendant is convicted, and the precedent in the jurisdiction. Some crimes that have been categorized as crimes involving moral turpitude include:
Crimes involving moral turpitude require criminal intent and a particularly egregious act. Ohio law categorizes some crimes involving moral turpitude and outlines when the definition applies.
Some crimes may not be CIMTs under state law but still classified as CIMTs under U.S. immigration law. White-collar crimes like forgery or identity fraud can also be classified as CIMTs since they involve an intent to defraud or deceive.
Assault with a deadly weapon (aggravated assault) is a CIMT. However, assaults that do not involve dangerous weapons or evil intent may not be classified as CIMTs.
Conspiracy, attempt, and accessory to a crime can be CIMTs. If the underlying crime is a CIMT, then a person involved in a conspiracy, attempt, or as an accessory to a crime has committed a CIMT.
What Crimes Are Usually Not Considered Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude?
Since the definition of “crimes involving moral turpitude” is inexact, whether a crime is a CIMT is determined on a case-by-case basis. Some crimes that are not usually considered CIMTs include:
These crimes are missing either the required intentional mental state or the egregious element of a CIMT. Some crimes may constitute CIMTs for purposes of immigration consequences but not other situations.
Domestic violence can be a CIMT under immigration law. Since U.S. immigration law looks at both the language of the statute and the underlying facts, an assault that might not otherwise be a CIMT can be considered one if it was committed against a spouse or child.
Driving Under the Influence / Driving While Intoxicated
First-time DUIs are not usually considered CIMTs by professional licensing boards and they do not have any impact on a person’s credibility as a witness, generally. Immigration courts have found hit-and-run offenses to constitute CIMTs, whether or not they involve DUI.
When Are Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude Important?
There are a few very specific situations in which it matters whether a person has committed a crime involving moral turpitude. These situations include:
- Criminal deportation proceedings
- Demonstrating one’s character and fitness to practice law
- Registering to vote in some states
In each situation, the exact meaning of “crime involving moral turpitude” may differ slightly, but the general meaning applies across all of these situations. Having been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude can also negatively impact your credibility as a witness or your qualification for certain jobs in positions of public trust.
Since the consequences of being convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude can be severe, it is always in your best interest to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney about your situation.
Contact the Cincinnati Criminal Defense Attorneys at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202