What Are Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude?
Crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMTs) are a general category of crimes that involve dishonesty or fraud, or a depraved act that shocks the conscience of a reasonable person. Such a crime always requires intent, meaning that the defendant must have willfully or intentionally acted with the knowledge that the action would harm another. Some examples of CIMTs include murder, rape, arson, robbery, child abuse, and voluntary manslaughters.
In general, these crimes often demonstrate a lack of good moral character rather than an accident or mistake. Crimes such as marijuana possession or first offenses of driving under the influence are not considered CIMTs. Knowing whether a crime is a CIMT can be important for defendants who are deciding whether to accept a plea bargain or take their case to trial.
Consequences of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude
A CIMT is not a specific offense that is charged on its own. Rather, CIMTs are a classification assigned to especially dishonest or depraved offenses. When a crime is considered a CIMT, a conviction can mean additional consequences on top of the penalties that you are already facing. Mainly, CIMT convictions can lead to:
- Immigration consequences
- Professional license consequences
- Witness credibility consequences
- Juvenile record consequences
The sections below detail the repercussions of being found guilty of a CIMT.
An immigrant may face negative immigration consequences if charged with a CIMT. In the United States, CIMTs are a category of crimes that can lead to the deportation or inadmissibility of non-citizens. A non-citizen may be deported if he meets the following elements:
- He is convicted of a CIMT
- He receives a jail sentence of 1 year or longer
- He is convicted within 5 years of being admitted to the United States
In addition, a non-citizen convicted of a CIMT may be deemed inadmissible, meaning he cannot apply for permanent resident status in the U.S., gain citizenship status, or re-enter the country after leaving.
Professional License Consequences
CIMTs can also have adverse effects on one’s career and professional life. Many professions require a license in order to practice; a CIMT conviction could lead to the suspension or revocation of your professional license. Professions that are often affected by this law include physicians, nurses, attorneys, and teachers. Most professional licensing boards in California draw a distinct line for crimes that involve moral turpitude and those that don’t. Losing your professional license due to a CIMT conviction could lead to drastic changes to your income and livelihood.
Witness Credibility Consequences
Because CIMTs often involve crimes of dishonesty or fraud, a conviction could lead to questions of your credibility if you are ever called to testify as a witness in court. An opposing lawyer could use your CIMT conviction to discredit your reliability as a witness. This is known as “impeachment” of a witness, when your criminal history is used to persuade a jury that your testimony is untrustworthy. In California, past CIMT convictions can always be admitted as evidence in order to impeach a witness. Since jurors are often swayed by emotion, evidence of a CIMT involving dishonesty may cause them to distrust a witness’s testimony.
Juvenile Record Consequences
Individuals are eligible to petition to seal their juvenile records once they reach 18 years of age or five years after the completion of their sentence, whichever comes earlier. When a juvenile record is sealed, the offenses are deemed to have never occurred, and the individual is free to answer “no” to any questions inquiring about their previous criminal history. However, if you are convicted of a felony or misdemeanor that is a CIMT, then you are not eligible to petition for the sealing of your juvenile record. This means that any crimes you committed before the age of 18 will continue to follow you around for the rest of your life.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today
Crimes involving moral turpitudes entail serious consequences beyond the usual fines and jail time. If you are charged with a CIMT, contact Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients, and we have the skills and resources to secure a successful outcome for you.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you.
Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.