DiCindio Law LLC | May 25, 2023 | Criminal Law
Moral turpitude refers to acts that are inherently dishonest, morally reprehensible, or contrary to the rules and standards of a “decent society.”
The term is often used in immigration law, as crimes involving moral turpitude can result in serious repercussions for non-citizens, including denial of visas or deportation. However, crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT) in Pennsylvania can also impact citizens, particularly when it comes to professional licenses, security clearances, and other critical aspects of life.
A Classification, Not a Specific Offense
A crime involving moral turpitude is not a distinct offense in and of itself. Rather, it is a classification that can be assigned to a crime, depending on the nature and circumstances surrounding the offense.
Crimes in Pennsylvania involving moral turpitude typically include acts carried out with reckless disregard for the potential consequences and a clear intention to harm, defraud, or deceive another person. The defining factor in CIMTs is the evil intent behind the action, which sets these crimes apart from others where the consequences may be unintended or due to negligence.
Examples of Offenses Classified as Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude
CIMTs encompass a wide range of offenses, from violent acts to financial fraud.
Here are some examples, though this list is not exhaustive:
- Aggravated assault and sexual assault
- Domestic abuse: Spousal abuse and child abuse both display clear malicious intent and are considered moral turpitude offenses.
- Child pornography
- Theft and burglary
- Prostitution and pandering
- Fraud: Financial fraud, including credit card fraud, identity theft, and embezzlement, is considered a CIMT due to the dishonest intent behind these actions.
- Criminal threats: Making threats of violence, harm, or death can be a CIMT due to the malicious nature of such threats.
- Felony hit-and-run: Leaving the scene of an accident when someone has been injured or killed displays both reckless disregard and evil intent.
- Drug crimes
- Receiving stolen property
- Welfare fraud: Defrauding government assistance programs demonstrates dishonesty and is considered a CIMT.
Other crimes involving fraud, deception, or depravity may also be considered CIMTs.
The Consequences of a Conviction for a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude
For those unlucky enough to be convicted of such crimes, a series of dire consequences can await. These issues can significantly disrupt one’s life and can vary from the legal arena to the professional world. Here are some of the most common repercussions:
Immigration issues: For non-citizens, a moral turpitude conviction can have severe consequences on their immigration status. Depending on the circumstances, individuals may be deemed deportable or inadmissible, affecting their ability to acquire or maintain green cards or visas.
Professional repercussions: Many professional fields require licensure to practice, such as medicine, law, accounting, and many others. Convictions involving moral turpitude can lead to these licenses being suspended or revoked. This can have a profound impact on one’s ability to earn an income and support themselves and their family.
Impacts on credibility: Convictions involving moral turpitude are often viewed negatively by society, leading to losing credibility within the community.
How to Handle Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude
Given the high stakes and severe consequences involved, it’s important to be prepared to handle criminal allegations involving moral turpitude. Below are some key recommendations to consider:
Seek Legal Representation: If charged with a crime involving moral turpitude, it is crucial to secure experienced legal representation immediately. This will help ensure that the individual’s rights are protected throughout the legal process and that they are given the best chance possible to challenge the charges.
Explore Defense Strategies: A seasoned criminal defense lawyer will thoroughly investigate the case and work with the defendant to determine the best course of action. This may involve raising specific defenses or challenging the evidence presented by the prosecution.
Maintain Compliance: If a non-citizen is facing a criminal charge involving moral turpitude, they must ensure that they comply with immigration laws and procedures. This includes cooperating with immigration officials and attending all scheduled hearings, as required.
Prepare for Professional Repercussions: Those in professional fields dependent on licensure should be prepared to address any potential impacts on their license or career. This may involve contacting licensing boards, seeking character references, or attending administrative hearings.
A West Chester Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help If You’ve Been Charged With a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude
Crimes involving moral turpitude can have long-lasting and far-reaching consequences on an individual’s life. If you need legal assistance, contact an experienced West Chester criminal defense lawyer for a free consultation.
Contact Our Criminal Defense Law Firm in West Chester, PA
***This blog article is made available by the law firm publisher for educational purposes and to provide general information, not to provide specific legal advice. By reading, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. Please contact DiCindio Law, LLC for a consultation and to discuss what law is relevant to your case. ***