Criminal Defense Blog

Get a free consultation now

What Are Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude?

Facing criminal charges can be a complex and scary process. Beyond the confusion and fear, every crime carries potential repercussions such as supervised release, fines, or even incarceration.

However, within the broad spectrum of offenses are certain crimes deemed as crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMTs). Understanding which offenses fall under this classification is crucial due to their significant impact on aspects of your life far beyond just the immediate criminal penalties you could face.

What Exactly Does Moral Turpitude Mean?

Crimes involving moral turpitude typically comprise actions deemed inherently deceitful or fraudulent or those causing harm to others – they represent behaviors against society’s fundamental values. These crimes can be misdemeanors or felonies.

In essence, moral turpitude refers to actions considered to shockingly violate public conscience by their very nature.

One of the fundamental concepts behind CIMTs is intent. Crimes falling under this category are not about minor infractions or merely unwise decisions. They don’t typically include acts committed by mistake or as a result of an accident. 

Examples of Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Moral turpitude may not have an explicit statutory definition within criminal law, but certain offenses have been recognized by courts as embodying this concept. Some examples of crimes that are categorized this way include:

Murder and Other Violent Crimes

This generally involves the premeditated killing of a person with malice aforethought. Many other violent crimes are also considered crimes of moral turpitude.


Embezzlement – which is misappropriating funds entrusted to you for personal use – represents fraudulent and deceitful behavior, as do many other white-collar crimes.


Using force or intimidation during theft – the typical elements of robbery – might also qualify due to its violent nature coupled with deceitful actions.


Lying under oath – perjury – disrupts the judicial process, demonstrating both dishonesty and deception.

These instances demonstrate that the court’s interpretation usually includes acts that significantly oppose societal norms or cause substantial harm to people. 

Examples of Crimes That Are Not Considered To Involve Moral Turpitude

While the category of crimes involving moral turpitude covers a wide range of offenses, not all criminal charges fall under this scope. Some crimes that the courts have consistently refused to classify as CIMT include first-time driving under the influence charges, possession of marijuana, and many more.

Consequences of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

A conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) carries with it more than just the immediate judicial punishment, which could include significant fines or prison time. Some of the other collateral consequences include:

Immigration Consequences

Non-citizens convicted of CIMTs may face harsh immigration repercussions, including possible deportation proceedings or being barred from entering into the country.

A non-citizen could face deportation if:

  • They are convicted of a CIMT;
  •  A jail sentence of one year or longer is handed down as part of their conviction; and
  • The conviction occurs within five years after being admitted to the United States.

Additionally, even without the above circumstances in play, a non-citizen defendant can still be rendered deportable if they get convicted for two or more crimes involving moral turpitude arising from distinct criminal conduct.

Inadmissibility After Conviction of CIMT

Crimes involving moral turpitude can affect a person’s admissibility in The United States as well. A conviction for a CIMT or admission to all elements of such a crime can render one inadmissible. As an individual deemed inadmissible:

  • You won’t be able to apply for permanent resident status – commonly known as acquiring a green card.
  • Any attempts to adjust your current immigration status will likely be denied.
  • If you leave the U.S., you may face restrictions on re-entry into the country.
  • Finally, plans towards naturalizing and becoming a U.S. citizen could become impossible.

If you’re facing charges for a crime involving moral turpitude and you are not a United States citizen, it’s critical that you work with a criminal defense lawyer who is also extremely well-versed in immigration law and the consequences you could face.

Professional Repercussions

Professional licenses such as those held by doctors, lawyers, teachers, and other professionals can be affected because these disciplines require those in the field to abide by certain ethical standards. Convictions for CIMTs could lead to loss of licensure or difficulty obtaining it in the future.

Credibility Impacts

If you’re ever called upon to testify in court, your credibility will likely be questioned if there’s a record that you have been convicted of a crime involving deceptive behavior.

As you can see, convictions on CIMT charges carry severe consequences extending beyond criminal penalties.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Law Firm of Ahmed & Sukaram, DUI and Criminal Defense Attorneys Today For Help.

If you’re accused of committing a crime involving moral turpitude you should seek experienced legal counsel as soon as possible. If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney.

For more information please contact our criminal defense law firm of Ahmed & Sukaram, DUI and Criminal Defense Attorneys at the nearest location for a free consultation.

Ahmed & Sukaram, DUI and Criminal Defense Attorneys – San Jose Office
1625 The Alameda, Suite 405, San Jose, CA 95126
(408) 217-8818

Ahmed & Sukaram, DUI and Criminal Defense Attorneys – Redwood City Office
600 Allerton St Suite 201G, Redwood City, CA 94063
(650) 299-0500

Recent Posts

What Are the Safest and Most Dangerous Areas in Northern California?

What Happens if You Get an Out of State Warrant for Your Arrest?

How Often Do DUI Cases Go to Trial in California?

Call Now Button