1. Introduction
    • Definition of Moral Turpitude
    • Importance in Immigration Law
  2. Understanding Moral Turpitude
    • Historical Context
    • Legal Definition
  3. Types of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude
    • Crimes Against Persons
      • Assault and Battery
      • Homicide
    • Crimes Against Property
      • Theft
      • Fraud
    • Crimes Against Governmental Authority
      • Bribery
      • Tax Evasion
  4. Impact on Immigration Status
    • Green Card Holders
    • Visa Applicants
    • Refugees and Asylees
  5. Legal Consequences
    • Deportation and Removal
    • Inadmissibility
    • Bars to Naturalization
  6. Case Studies
    • Real-Life Examples
  7. Defenses Against Allegations
    • Legal Defenses
    • Mitigating Factors
  8. Legal Assistance and Representation
    • Finding an Immigration Lawyer
    • Importance of Legal Representation
  9. Preventive Measures
    • Understanding U.S. Laws
    • Maintaining a Clean Record
  10. FAQs



When it comes to U.S. immigration, certain legal terms can be quite daunting. One such term is “moral turpitude.” So, what exactly does it mean, and why does it matter in immigration law? Let’s dive into the world of crimes involving moral turpitude and understand their significant impact on immigration status.

Understanding Moral Turpitude

To get a grip on this concept, it’s essential to look at its historical roots and legal definitions. Historically, moral turpitude refers to conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty, or good morals. In legal terms, it’s more about the nature of the crime rather than the statutory elements.

Types of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

Crimes involving moral turpitude are categorized based on the nature of the offense. Here are some primary categories:

  • Crimes Against Persons
    • Assault and Battery: These crimes involve physical harm or the threat thereof, and they reflect a disregard for the well-being of others.
    • Homicide: This includes murder and manslaughter, which are severe violations of moral and legal codes.
  • Crimes Against Property
    • Theft: Acts of stealing, whether petty or grand, are considered morally reprehensible.
    • Fraud: Deception for personal gain falls under this category, including various forms of financial fraud.
  • Crimes Against Governmental Authority
    • Bribery: Offering or accepting bribes undermines the integrity of governmental processes.
    • Tax Evasion: Failing to pay taxes not only breaks the law but also violates moral obligations to society.

Impact on Immigration Status

Understanding how these crimes affect immigration status is crucial:

  • Green Card Holders: Committing a crime involving moral turpitude can lead to deportation or removal proceedings.
  • Visa Applicants: Such crimes can make applicants inadmissible, meaning they cannot enter the U.S.
  • Refugees and Asylees: Their protected status might be jeopardized if they are found guilty of such crimes.

Legal Consequences

The legal ramifications are severe and multifaceted:

  • Deportation and Removal: Non-citizens can be deported if convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.
  • Inadmissibility: Individuals can be barred from entering the U.S. if they have been convicted of such crimes.
  • Bars to Naturalization: These crimes can prevent lawful permanent residents from becoming U.S. citizens.

Case Studies

Examining real-life examples helps illustrate these points. Consider the case of a green card holder convicted of fraud. Despite having lived in the U.S. for years, this individual faced deportation because the crime was considered one involving moral turpitude.

Defenses Against Allegations

If accused, it’s critical to know the potential defenses:

  • Legal Defenses: These might include proving the lack of intent or arguing that the crime does not meet the legal definition of moral turpitude.
  • Mitigating Factors: Demonstrating good moral character or other mitigating circumstances can sometimes reduce the severity of the consequences.

Legal Assistance and Representation

Navigating these legal waters without help is risky. Finding an experienced immigration lawyer is paramount. They can provide the necessary guidance and representation to handle such complex cases.

Preventive Measures

To avoid these dire consequences, understanding and adhering to U.S. laws is essential. Maintaining a clean record by avoiding any criminal activities is the best preventive measure.


Crimes involving moral turpitude have far-reaching implications in the realm of U.S. immigration. Understanding what constitutes such crimes and their potential impacts is crucial for anyone navigating the immigration system. If you find yourself in a challenging situation, seeking legal advice and representation is the best course of action.


  1. What is a crime involving moral turpitude?
    • It’s a crime that reflects poorly on one’s moral character, such as fraud or assault.
  2. Can a crime involving moral turpitude lead to deportation?
    • Yes, non-citizens can be deported if convicted of such crimes.
  3. How can I defend myself against an accusation of a crime involving moral turpitude?
    • Legal defenses might include proving the lack of intent or showing mitigating factors.
  4. Will a crime involving moral turpitude affect my visa application?
    • Yes, it can make you inadmissible to the U.S.
  5. Do I need a lawyer if I’m accused of a crime involving moral turpitude?
    • Yes, an experienced immigration lawyer can provide essential guidance and representation.