Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMTs)

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Overview of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (a/k/a CIMTs) - a classification of crimes that can lead to inadmissibility, exclusion, deportation, removal, or a denial of immigration benefits such as …

Overview of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (a/k/a CIMTs) - a classification of crimes that can lead to inadmissibility, exclusion, deportation, removal, or a denial of immigration benefits such as citizenship or permanent resident status.

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  • 1. Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (“CIMTs”) by Marshall H. Hong, J.D. www.Hong-Immigration.com www.ImmigrationInfoSite.com
  • 2. DisclaimerThis Presentation is not intended as a substitute for personalizedlegal advice from a qualified immigration attorney.This Presentation is intended to give a general overview of CrimesInvolving Moral Turpitude, which could result in Deportation.If you are not a U.S. Citizen and you have been charged with acrime, or if you are already facing Deportation due to a CriminalConviction, you should consult with a qualified immigrationattorney in your area for advice and possible representation.At the conclusion of this Presentation you will find contactinformation for the Author – please feel free to contact theAuthor if you have specific questions or would like additionalinformation on this or other immigration law topics.
  • 3. Criminal Convictions & Immigration StatusIf you are residing in the U.S. and you are not a U.S. Citizen,certain Criminal Convictions could result in negativeconsequences with respect to your immigration status, whichinclude: Deportation from the United States. Refusal of Admission back into the United States after temporary foreign travel (a/k/a Exclusion or Inadmissibility). Denial of an Application for immigration benefits such as Lawful Permanent Resident Status. Denial of an Application for Naturalization (Citizenship).
  • 4. Deportability vs. InadmissibilityWhen a non-citizen individual is found to be “inadmissible”, thismeans that he can be refused admission (lawful entry) into theUnited States at a port of entry, or denied an immigration benefit,such as naturalization, or adjustment of status to permanentresidence.When a non-citizen individual is found to be “deportable”, thismeans that he is physically present in the United States, but canbe ordered removed/deported from the United States.Certain criminal convictions can make an individual inadmissible,deportable, or both.
  • 5. Classification of CrimesThere are several classifications of Criminal Convictions thatcan result in Deportability or Inadmissibility: Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (“CIMT”). Aggravated Felonies. High Speed Flight. Controlled Substance-Related Crimes. Crimes Involving Firearms. Domestic Violence Crimes. Miscellaneous Crimes.
  • 6. Convictions & DeportationThis Presentation will focus on the issue of which crimes can beclassified as Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude (“CIMTs”).Please visit www.ImmigrationInfoSite.comfor information, articles, and other materials regarding otherclassifications of crimes, the consequences of which couldinclude Deportation, Exclusion, and Denial of ImmigrationBenefits (such as citizenship or permanent residency)
  • 7. Need not be a “conviction”In most cases, a criminal charge must result in a “conviction”before it can lead to inadmissibility or deportability.However, in the case of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude(“CIMTs”), an individual could be found inadmissible even whenthere has not been a “conviction”. If an individual admits to an immigration officer or consular officer, that he has committed a CIMT, or if he admits to having committed all of the acts that make up the “essential elements” of a CIMT, he could be found to be “inadmissible”.By contrast, to be found deportable, an individual must have been“convicted” of a CIMT.
  • 8. “Essential Elements” of a CIMTThe “essential elements” of a crime are all of the acts, omissions,or intentions, that the prosecution must prove in order to showthat a crime - as defined by the criminal code - has beencommitted by a defendant.The criminal code (or statute) is the written law as enacted by thefederal, state, or municipal legislative body, that defines what actsor omissions are considered to be criminal conduct.For an individual to be found guilty of having committed a crime,the prosecution must show that ALL of the “essential elements”of the crime have been committed.
  • 9. “Essential Elements” of a CIMT (an example)For example, under Illinois law, the crime of “theft” is defined asfollows (from 720 ILCS 5/16-1): A person commits “theft” when he or she knowingly: obtains or exerts unauthorized control over property of the owner . . . AND intends to deprive the owner permanently of the use or benefit of the property.(Note: the full statute includes other possible alternative elements, butthe above excerpt gives a complete list of “essential elements” for oneversion of the crime of theft as defined in the Illinois Criminal Code)
  • 10. “Essential Elements” of a CIMT (an example - continued)In the above example, note that the “essential elements” are listedin bold print: i. knowingly ii. exerts unauthorized control over the property of the owner iii. with the intent iv. to deprive the owner permanently of the use or benefit of the propertyIf any of the above elements are absent, then the crime of theft hasnot been committed.For example, if the accused did not have the intent to deprive theowner permanently of the use or benefit of the property (i.e. hisintention was only to “borrow” the property), then he has notcommitted a theft.
  • 11. “Essential Elements” of a CIMT (an example - continued)Similarly, if the exercise of control over the property ofanother is not unauthorized, then a theft has not beencommitted: i.e. the owner of the property authorized (gave permission to) the accused to exert control over the property
  • 12. “Essential Elements” of a CIMT (an example - continued)Using the above example (the crime of “theft” in Illinois), if anindividual admits to an immigration officer or consular officer thathe has (i) knowingly (ii) exerted unauthorized control over theproperty of an owner (iii) with the intent (iv) to deprive the ownerpermanently of the use or benefit of the property, then theindividual can be found to be “inadmissible”, even if he has neverbeen convicted of the crime of “theft”.(It is important to note that such an admission must be voluntary,and the individual must have been provided with a definition of allof the “essential elements” of the crime prior to his admission,before a finding of “inadmissibility” can be made.)
  • 13. “Conviction” required for “Deportability”As noted above, although admitting to the “essentialelements” of a CIMT can lead to a finding of “inadmissibility”,a conviction is still required before a CIMT can lead to a findingof “deportability”.
  • 14. When is it a “conviction”It is important to note that a “conviction” for immigration lawpurposes may not be the same as a “conviction” under thecriminal laws of your state. If you have been charged with acrime, and the criminal court disposed of the charge with anorder other than a “conviction” – or if the case is still pendingand the prosecutor offers an alternative disposition instead ofa “conviction”, in exchange for your plea of guilty - you shouldconsult with a qualified immigration attorney to determinewhether it will be considered a “conviction” for immigrationlaw (Deportation) purposes.
  • 15. “Conviction” DefinedFor Immigration Law purposes, under the Immigration andNationality Act (“INA”), a “Conviction” is defined asfollows: A person has been “convicted” of a crime if a criminal court (judge) has found that person guilty and has entered a formal judgment of guilt against that person. In some cases, even if the court has not entered a formal judgment of guilt, a person may still be considered to have been “convicted” (for immigration law purposes) if the person was found guilty, or has entered a plea of guilty, and the judge has entered some form of punishment or restraint on the person’s liberty (for example, an order of Probation or Supervision).
  • 16. Which Dispositions are NOT Considered “Convictions”?The following dispositions of criminal charges are NOTconsidered to be “Convictions” for immigration lawpurposes: Acquittals and other findings of “Not Guilty”. Charges that have been dismissed by the prosecutor. Cases resulting only in the imposition of court costs. Certain diversionary programs where the defendant agrees to participate in some rehabilitative or other program, without an admission or finding of guilt. Certain cases in which a conviction has been vacated on due process or constitutional grounds (and not solely to avoid immigration consequences).
  • 17. Crimes Involving Moral TurpitudeThe term “Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude” (“CIMTs”)refers generally to a range of crimes that are considered tobe base, vile, or depraved. The characterization is based onthe “evil intent” or “corrupt mind” of the perpetrator ofthe crime. While there is no clearly defined list of crimesconsidered to be CIMTs, they are usually those crimes thatinvolve fraud or dishonesty, sex crimes, and those crimesinvolving serious harm or injury to another.
  • 18. CIMTs and “Inadmissibility”When an individual has been “convicted” of a CIMT, or hasadmitted to an immigration officer or consular officer thathe has committed a CIMT, or that he has committed all ofthe “essential elements” of a CIMT, he will be“inadmissible”.
  • 19. “Petty Offense” ExceptionIf an individual has been convicted of only a single CIMT,and that CIMT is considered to be a “petty offense”, thenthe individual will not be “inadmissible”.A CIMT is considered to be a “petty offense” when themaximum possible penalty for the crime is less than oneyear of imprisonment and when the actual sentenceimposed is less than six months of imprisonment.
  • 20. CIMTs and “Deportability”For a CIMT to be a “deportable” offense: i. the alien must have been “convicted” (see above); ii. the CIMT must have been committed within 5 years of the alien’s admission into the U.S.; and iii. the CIMT must also be one that is punishable by a sentence of one year or more (even if the actual sentence is less than one year).
  • 21. Multiple CIMT ConvictionsA non-Citizen may also be Deported if he has beenconvicted of two or more CIMTs “not arising out of asingle scheme of criminal misconduct” Under this section of the law, the crimes can have been committed at any time after admission into the U.S. In other words, unlike Deportability for a single CIMT conviction, there is no requirement that the CIMTs have been committed within 5 years of admission into the U.S. to render the alien Deportable.
  • 22. Examples of CIMTsSome examples of crimes that have been found to be CIMTs: Robbery Arson Fraud Assault resulting in serious bodily injury Sex Crimes (an alien may also be Deportable for failure to register as a Sex Offender if required to do so by law) Retail Theft(the proper determination of whether a crime is a CIMT may varyfrom state to state and may require analysis by a qualifiedimmigration attorney)
  • 23. Domestic Violence & Related CrimesAn alien will be Deportable if, at any time after admission to theU.S., he is convicted of a crime involving: Domestic Violence; Stalking; Child Abuse, Child Neglect, or Child Abandonment; or the Violation of an Order of Protection.A crime of violence will be considered “Domestic Violence” if it iscommitted against the perpetrator’s spouse, against a personwith whom the perpetrator has a child, or against a person whoresides with the perpetrator.(Note: A conviction for Domestic Violence may also make anindividual “inadmissible” or “deportable” as a CIMT.)
  • 24. Deportability and Relief from RemovalDue to space limitations, this Presentation is necessarily anincomplete and generalized overview of Crimes Involving MoralTurpitude. If you have been charged with or convicted of a crime, orare facing Deportation Proceedings for a Criminal Conviction, youshould consult with a qualified immigration attorney to determine: Whether the conviction can be classified as a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (“CIMT”); Whether you can vacate the conviction to avoid inadmissibility or deportation; and/or Whether you are eligible for any other form of Relief from Removal, such as Cancellation of Removal, or a Waiver.
  • 25. ConclusionIf you are not a U.S. Citizen, and you have been charged with or convicted ofa crime, it is important that you consult with a qualified immigrationattorney regarding your options and how the charge or conviction mayaffect your status in the U.S., including the possibility of Deportation.If you have been arrested, even if you believe you were not convicted, youmay still wish to consult with an immigration attorney, as the definition of“conviction” for immigration law purposes may differ from the definition of“conviction” under the laws of the state in which you were arrested.This presentation is intended only as a general overview and does NOTattempt to answer your individualized questions. For more information onthese and other immigration law issues, please visit: www.ImmigrationInfoSite.com
  • 26. For More Information, visit us at:www.ImmigrationInfoSite.com www.Hong-Immigration.com or contact Marshall Hong by email at: Marshall@Hong-Immigration.com