Law Offices of Hugo Pina
Law Offices of Hugo Pina
Experienced Immigration And Criminal Defense Lawyers Serving South Texas
McAllen 956-320-2241 Harlingen 956-468-0934

What is moral turpitude?

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2022 | Deportation |

You know that it’s possible to be deported for criminal activity. You also know that not every single crime is going to lead to a deportation.

There are numerous ways to break down the different categories of crimes that can lead to deportation, and one phrase that is often used is moral turpitude. It is said that someone who commits a crime of moral turpitude can be deported, and these are viewed as more serious instances. So what does this term mean in the legal sense for those in the United States?

A crime that violates society’s standards

This term can be used for both misdemeanor crimes and felony crimes, so it’s not just the level of the alleged criminal activity that plays a role. In short, a crime of moral turpitude is one that is considered to be “immoral, depraved, and contrary to justice.”

For example, maybe you’ve been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol. This is generally not a crime of moral turpitude. You may have to pay fines or even spend time in jail, and you could lose your driver’s license, but you are probably not going to be deported. However, if you are accused of driving under the influence of certain drugs, it could be defined as a crime of moral turpitude.

These crimes can also involve “unjustified violence and bodily harm.” For instance, maybe you’re driving after having a few drinks at dinner. This is already potentially illegal, as you could pick up your first DUI.

But you get caught by the police because another driver cuts you off. You’re so angry about this that you begin engaging in road rage, and you run that vehicle off of the road. It strikes a tree and someone in the car dies. This is clearly a much worse crime than it would have been if you were just pulled over for being under the influence, and things have escalated to a point where you are now going to be deported.

This is an extreme example of how an escalation could occur but it helps you to understand how the courts view these more serious charges. If you’re facing any sorts of allegations, especially if you don’t believe that things are as serious as the way they’re being portrayed, it’s very important that you understand all of your legal defense options.