||This article is weighted too heavily toward only one aspect of its subject. (July 2011)|
|Look up moral turpitude in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
Moral turpitude is a legal concept in the United States and some other countries that refers to "conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals." This term appears in U.S. immigration law beginning in the 19th century.
The concept of "moral turpitude" might escape precise definition, but it has been described as an "act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man."
The classification of a crime or other conduct as constituting moral turpitude has significance in several areas of law. First, prior conviction of a crime of moral turpitude (or in some jurisdictions, "moral turpitude conduct", even without a conviction) is considered to have a bearing on the honesty of a witness and might be used for purposes of the impeachment of witnesses. Second, offenses involving moral turpitude may be grounds to deny or revoke state professional licenses such as a teaching credentials, licenses to practice law, or other licensed profession. Third, this concept is of great importance for immigration purposes in the United States, Canada, and some other countries, since offenses which are defined as involving moral turpitude are considered bars to immigration into the U.S.
||This article needs attention from an expert on the subject.|
There are other crimes of moral turpitude that are not mentioned below, but they definitely should be mentioned in this article: In court proceedings: tampering with a witness, tampering with the jury, attempting to intimidate a witness, a juror, or the judge, impersonating a licensed attorney. (Bribery is mentioned below.) In the area of law enforcement, felony convictions for these should be crimes of moral turpitude: making false statements to law enforcement officers such as these: policemen on the state level and below, and a wide variety of Federal law-enforcement agents such as Federal marshals, agents of the F.B.I., and agents of the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Defense, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Department of Energy (in charge of nuclear power and the production of nuclear weapons), U.S. Department of the Interior (including law-enforcement agents at National Parks, National Monuments, and National Seashores), U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, U.S. Secret Service (which investigates counterfeiting and protects the President and the Vice-President), Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of the Treasury—and also their equivalents on the State level. Furthermore, in law enforcement, felony convictions for making false statements to District Attorneys on the State and on the Federal level (the U.S. Department of Justice) should be crimes of moral turpitude.
American Immigration law 
A conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) causes a person to be inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a)(2)(a)(i) of the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act). There are petty offense exceptions to this rule, but these exceptions do not change the meaning of the question on the Visa Waiver Program or on the visa application form, and cannot be self-certified. A controlled substance violation causes the alien to be inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a)(2)(i)(II) of the INA. They are two different sections of the law. A controlled substance violation is a CIMT. The immigration administrative proceeding does not use a controlled substance violation as a CIMT. A visa waiver program applicant admissibility is determined at the port of entry and they are subject to section 212(a) and 217 of the INA.
Visa Waiver Program 
The first question on document I-94W for those visiting the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program asks:
Have you ever been arrested or convicted for an offense or crime involving moral turpitude or a violation related to a controled substance; or been arrested or convicted for two or more offenses for which the aggregate sentence to confinement was five years or more; or been controled substance trafficker; or are you seeking entry to engage in criminal or immoral activities?
Little guidance is provided to the traveler as to which offenses are included in the definition; however the Web site of the U.S. embassy in London states that a visa is required for anyone who has ever been arrested or convicted for any offense. This appears to be at variance with the question on form I-94W and information supplied by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as there are many offenses that are not considered to involve moral turpitude
U.S. government guidance on determining moral turpitude 
For offenses (or arrests on suspicion of such offenses) occurring outside the U.S., the locally defined offense must be considered against the U.S. definitions, and in such cases it is the definition of the offense (as defined in the appropriate country) which is considered for immigration purposes, and not the circumstances of the individual's actual case.
Whether a state law offense constitutes a crime involving moral turpitude for federal immigration purposes is decided on a statute by statute basis, because each state statute might cover a different range behaviors, some of which may not necessarily involve moral turpitude under the Federal definition. For a good example of a criminal statute that seems like it would categorically involve moral turpitude, but actually does not because the statute covers some behavior that does not involve moral turpitude, see the Ninth Circuit case Castrijon-Garcia v. Holder, No. 09-73756 (9th Cir. 2013) (simple kidnapping under California Penal Code § 207(a) is not a categorical crime involving moral turpitude).
|Category||Crimes involving moral turpitude||Crimes not involving moral turpitude|
|Crimes Against Property||Fraud:
|Crimes Committed Against Governmental Authority||
|Crimes Committed Against Person, Family Relationship, and Sexual Morality||
|Attempts, Aiding and Abetting, Accessories and Conspiracy||
|From the United States Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual|
See also 
- Moral Turpitude: West's Encyclopedia of American Law Answers.com
- A Crime Involving Moral Turpitude! What in the World is That? US immigration and visa lawyers in London
- Chadwick v. State Bar, 49 Cal. 3d 103, 110, 776 P.2d 240, 260 Cal.Rptr. 538 (1989); Sosa-Martinez v. United States AG, 420 F.3d 1338, 1341 (11th Cir. 2005)
- People v. Wheeler, 4 Cal.4th 284, 295-296, 841 P.2d 938, 14 Cal.Rptr.2d 418
- Ballard v. Independent School Dist., 320 F.3d 1119 (10th Cir. 2003)
- Chadwick v. State Bar, 49 Cal.3d 103, 776 P.2d 240, 260 Cal.Rptr. 538 (1989)
- 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A); 8 CFR 316.10
- "Visa Waiver Program: Additional Requirements". Retrieved 2010-09-05.
- United States Department of State. "U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 9 - Visas: 9 FAM 40.21(A) N2 Moral turpitude" (pdf). Retrieved 2008-12-07.