Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT) and Your Immigration Status

All arrests in New York are bad. All criminal convictions involving the New York Penal Law are terrible. If you are foreign national living or working in New York State (or anywhere in the United States), a criminal conviction can have permanent consequences on your current and future visa, green card or citizenship process. Simply, some offenses will drastically impact your immigration status in ways that may never be repaired. Whether you are working or in school with an F1 or H1B is of little consequence. If you are arrested for a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude, or CIMT, be prepared to fight not only your criminal arrest, but for your immigration status and future in the United States.

The New York Penal Law is filled with crimes and offenses that often do or may expose you to removal or future inadmissibility. Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude are often the most devastating of these offenses to your immigration. The Federal Government does not care whether you were arrested by means of a Desk Appearance Ticket or you were indicted for a felony after a seven-month investigation. Some otherwise apparently minor offenses, like their more serious felony siblings, can be considered CIMT. Again…green card holder, permanent resident, holder of a student or work visa? Educate yourself and retain experienced criminal defense counsel because the ramifications for making the wrong decision can be permanent and grave.

Defining Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT)

The Board of Immigration Appeals, or BIA, has attempted to define Crime Involving Moral Turpitude. The BIA has called CIMT offenses as those that "shock[] the public conscience as being inherently base, vile, or depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general.” Further, it is not merely your conduct, but the statute or New York Penal Law section that you are charged with that is relevant. As such, the intent element of the crime you face must be evil or malicious. Unfortunately, whether you are charged with Third Degree Grand Larceny, Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, Second Degree Assault, Theft of Services or Fourth Degree Stalking, none of these crimes, or others in the New York Penal Law, will have an intent described as “evil” or “malicious.” Yes, you may wish to seek immigration counsel, but how your arrest may influence your current or future status starts and ends with strong advocacy in your criminal case.

Two Step Analysis: Identifying Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT)

Since April 2015, there has been an attempt to add clarity to a difficult process by which courts will determine whether a crime and criminal conviction is a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude. First, the court must look at the face of the particular statute you were convicted of violating. If it is clear or an answer is found there, then the question is complete. Either it is or it is not a CIMT. However, where this is some issue as to how this offense is defined, the courts can then look at the record of the conviction.

Specific Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT)

As the landscape continues to change and means by which Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude are determined, the types of offenses that fall within the guideline of CIMT may change as well. Having said that, there are certain offenses that either have been found to be CIMT or those that potentially can be viewed as Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude. That said, the following are some crimes that are or may be deemed CIMT:

Remember, the above list is not an all-inclusive one or, for that matter, the “gospel.” For example, if Petit Larceny and Fourth Degree Grand Larceny are either in fact or likely Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude, the same would hold for the more serious felonies not listed – Second Degree Grand Larceny and First Degree Grand Larceny. In short, offenses involving CIMT can extend well beyond this list. Under no circumstance should you utilize the information contained here in lieu of a consultation and review of your case with an experienced New York criminal defense attorney. In fact, even if a crime is not a CIMT, if it involves domestic violence or children it could violate one of the other criteria that may lead you on a path of inadmissibility or deportation.

Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude: What it Means to You

Very simply, whether you are charged through a Desk Appearance Ticket for a lower level misdemeanor or you are arrested for a felony crime, there are very real immigration consequences to foreign nationals working, studying, residing or vacationing in the United States. Don’t compound a bad mistake. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to inadmissibility or deportation. Protect yourself and your future in the United States. Be responsible and get the help you need before the time to best protect yourself has passed.

Contact the criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC and let experience, advocacy and knowledge be your strongest defense.

Call the New York criminal lawyers and former New York City prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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