An immigrant’s legal status always depends on an adherence to certain guidelines. Criminal convictions are one of the most common ways that immigrants become subjected to potential deportation. While not all crimes are grounds for deportation, there are certain types that can affect the eligibility of all immigrants, including green card holders.

One type of crime that the legal system classifies as deportable are “crimes of moral turpitude.” However, immigration law does not do a great job of strictly defining these kinds of crimes.

What are “crimes of moral turpitude?”

“Crimes of moral turpitude” (CMTs) are not a formal charge. The term refers to a group of crimes which it defines as morally depraved. However, because there is no strict legal definition of the term, ruling bodies and judges have a lot of discretion when it comes to determining if a crime is a CMT or not.

Common examples of these crimes can include:

  • Espionage
  • Sexual assault
  • Murder & intentional manslaughter
  • Theft
  • Human trafficking

There are very few hard and fast rules when it comes to defining these kinds of crimes. The definition of moral turpitude varies widely from each state, case and judge. For example, In 2018, a judge ruled that an immigrant living in the Portland area should not be deported despite his conviction of sexually abusing a teenage girl.

Lack of clarity

“Crimes of moral turpitude” are one of the most confusing and complicated aspects of facing charges as an immigrant. The lack of consistency in defining CMTs is the main cause of its obscurity. If you are facing potential deportation because of a crime conviction, you should speak with an experienced attorney. Though summons may seem daunting, especially after being convicted of a crime, you may still have options for defending yourself from deportation.