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What crimes of moral turpitude are and why this matters to you

The United States is a very moralistic society at its core. Its laws are reflective of its belief system. Crimes of moral turpitude are those offenses that go against the morality of public consciousness.

There's no clear definition as to what moral turpitude is in any of the U.S. laws. The concept has been used in the immigration law context here since 1891 though. The Immigration Act of 1952 mentioned the terminology as a basis for excluding individuals from entering the U.S. when they'd been convicted of specific crimes.

Black's Law Dictionary defines moral turpitude as "an act of baseness, vileness or depravity." That same definition shows that any individual who deviates from the "accepted and customary rule of right and duty" in dealing with others may have committed a crime of moral turpitude.

Several crimes are moral turpitude crimes. These include abuse, aggravated assault, arson, blackmail or bribery, fraud, harboring a fugitive, mayhem and murder. Perjury, prostitution, rape, smuggling, theft, voluntary manslaughter and kidnapping are also crimes of moral turpitude. Anyone who acts as an accessory to a crime or conspires to commit any of the above-referenced offenses may also be convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.

There was a U.S. Supreme Court case, Jordan v. De George, in 1951. The justices were asked to decide whether the terminology moral turpitude was clear. They determined that it wasn't unconstitutionally vague. Their justification for the ruling was that the terminology had been used in immigration law for more than 60 years. The court also pointed out that fraud is "without exception" an element of moral turpitude.

While the terminology moral turpitude has historically been used by the U.S. government for decades to prohibit immigration, it's grown in popularity in other sectors of society in recent years. Individuals who've been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude may be prohibited from being hired for certain jobs or obtaining licenses. This makes it hard for them to meet their financial obligations.

This is why you should reach out to a criminal defense attorney if you've been charged with a crime of moral turpitude. Your Corpus Christi lawyer will fight vigorously to work out the best result in your Texas case. This is particularly important when you're at risk for significant prison time, fines, deportation and a revocation of your professional license if you don't put up a fight.

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