"Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude" in California Criminal Law

Certain California crimes are considered “crimes involving moral turpitude” (also known as “crimes of moral turpitude” or “CIMTs”). A conviction for one of these crimes can have the following consequences:

  • Affecting your immigration status if you are not a citizen of the United States,1
  • Impeaching your credibility as a witness,2 and/or
  • Causing you to lose a professional license, like your right to practice law.3

Crimes of moral turpitude and criminal immigration law

The immigration consequences of a conviction of a crime of moral turpitude can be particularly harsh.

Crimes of moral turpitude can be deportable crimes under some circumstances, which means that they can lead to you being removed from the country.4

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And most crimes involving moral turpitude are so-called “inadmissible crimes,"5 which means that they can prevent you from

  1. re-entering the country after leaving,
  2. becoming a U.S. citizen, or
  3. applying for a green card or an “adjustment of status” – that is, a change from illegal to legal immigration status.6

Other consequences of a CIMT conviction

But non-U.S.-citizens are not the only people who have to worry about being convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.

If you have a conviction for a CIMT on your record, and you are called upon to testify at a trial, the lawyer for the opposing side can let the jury know about your conviction7—which may affect their willingness to believe you.

Your career may also be affected—or even destroyed—by a conviction of a crime of moral turpitude.

For example, California lawyers may face discipline from the state bar if they are convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.8 And California state employees may face discipline if they are convicted of a crime of moral turpitude.9

Definition of a crime of moral turpitude

Despite how important the concept is, the legal definition of moral turpitude is not entirely clear.10

But, generally speaking, a crime of moral turpitude is usually a crime that involves either

  • Dishonesty,
  • Fraud , or
  • Antisocial behavior that harms others.11

Example: Peter is from Canada but comes to the United States on a student visa to attend law school. After graduating, he is admitted to the California bar and gets a job at a law firm in San Francisco. The firm arranges for him to get a work visa that allows him to remain in the United States.

But then Peter is convicted of the California crime of forgery—which is a crime of moral turpitude.12

This conviction makes him inadmissible to the United States—which means he cannot apply for a green card or U.S. citizenship. It also leads to him having his law license suspended by the California bar.

In order to help you better understand the legal definition of “crimes involving moral turpitude”, our California criminal defense attorneys will address the following:

1. Crimes of Moral Turpitude and Criminal Immigration Law

1.1. Deportable crimes involving moral turpitude

1.2. Inadmissible crimes involving moral turpitude

2. CIMTs and Impeachment of Witnesses

3. Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude and Professional License Issues

4. Legal Definition of “Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude”

4.1. Criminal intent

4.2. Categorical approach / least adjudicative elements test

5. Which Crimes are Crimes of Moral Turpitude?

6. Post-Conviction Relief for Crimes of Moral Turpitude

If, after reading this article, you have additional questions, we invite you to contact us.

You may also find helpful information in our related articles on Immigration Consequences of a Conviction in California; California Deportable Crimes; California Inadmissible Crimes; Criminal Convictions & Attorney Discipline in California; California State Employees & Criminal Convictions; The California Crime of Forgery Penal Code 470 PC; California's “Possession of Drugs for Sale” Law Health & Safety Code 11351 HS; Felony Hit and Run Involving Death or Injury Vehicle Code 20001 VC; Legal Definition of a Misdemeanor in California Law; Legal Definition of Felonies in California Law; California Criminal Jury Trials: How it Works; Assault with a Deadly Weapon Penal Code 245(a)(1); The California Crime of Battery on a Police Officer Penal Code 243(b) & 243(c)(2) PC; California Arson Laws Penal Code 451 and 452 PC; Penal Code 273.5 PC California's Law Against Corporal Injury on a Spouse; California DUI Defense Attorneys; Post-Conviction Relief for California Immigrants; and “Ineffective Assistance of Counsel” in California Criminal Law.

1. Crimes of Moral Turpitude and Criminal Immigration Law

The federal Immigration and Nationality Act (usually referred to as the “INA”) provides that, if a non-citizen living in the United States is convicted of certain criminal offenses, s/he may be either

  • Deportable,13 or
  • Inadmissible.14

1.1. Deportable crimes involving moral turpitude

If you are deportable, that means that you may be removed from the United States – regardless of your immigration status (visa holder, green card holder, etc.) and how long you have lived here.

Homeland_security

Fortunately, not every conviction for a crime of moral turpitude will make you deportable.

Instead, you are deportable only if you either:

  1. Are convicted of a crime of moral turpitude for a which a sentence of one (1) year or longer may be imposed, within five (5) years of being admitted to the U.S., OR
  2. Are convicted of two (2) or more crimes of moral turpitude that did not arise out of a single criminal scheme.15

Example: Elena is a green card holder from Mexico. After she has been living in the U.S. for ten years, she is convicted of possession of drugs for sale—which is a crime of moral turpitude.16

Because Elena has been convicted of only one crime of moral turpitude, and the conviction occurred more than 5 years after she entered the U.S., she is not deportable.

BUT let's say a few years later, Elena is convicted of felony hit and run—also a crime of moral turpitude.17 Because she now has two CIMT convictions on her record, she may now be deported.

1.2. Inadmissible crimes involving moral turpitude

If you are inadmissible, that means that you may not be able to

  • Apply for permanent resident status (aka a “green card”),
  • Apply for an adjustment of status (that is, become a legal immigrant) if you are currently here illegally,
  • Re-enter the country after leaving, or
  • Naturalize as a U.S. citizen.18

You can be deemed inadmissible if you either

  • are convicted of, or
  • admit all the elements of,

any crime of moral turpitude.19

Note the difference between deportability and inadmissibility where crimes involving moral turpitude are concerned. You need either a fairly serious CIMT conviction within 5 years of arrival, or 2 or more CIMT convictions, to be deportable. But you can be inadmissible with only a single CIMT conviction.20

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A conviction for a crime of moral turpitude can prevent you from obtaining a "green card."

But there is one exception. If

  • your conviction is for only one crime,
  • the maximum sentence for that crime does not exceed one (1) year, AND
  • you are sentenced to a jail term of six (6) months or less,

then a conviction for a crime of moral turpitude will not make you inadmissible.21

This is known as the “petty offense exception.”

Example: In the introduction to this article, we offered the example of Peter—a Canadian lawyer practicing in the U.S. on a work visa. Peter is convicted of the California crime of forgery, which is a crime of moral turpitude.22 A forgery conviction could make him inadmissible…and unable to obtain a green card.

But let's say Peter's conviction was for forgery as a misdemeanor. This crime carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in county jail.23 In Peter's case, the judge decides to sentence him to only 3 months in jail.

Therefore, Peter's forgery conviction falls within the “petty offense exception”—and he will not be inadmissible because of it.

2. CIMTs and Impeachment of Witnesses

Another important area where the concept of a “crime of moral turpitude” comes up is with the impeachment of witnesses—that is, the introduction of evidence about a witness's criminal history in order to convince the jury not to believe his or her testimony.24

In California criminal trials, past convictions for felonies that are crimes of moral turpitude can always be admitted to impeach a witness.25

And criminal conduct that constitutes a crime of moral turpitude can also be admitted to impeach a witness—even if the witness was convicted of only a misdemeanor for that crime.26

Jurors in a California criminal jury trial may distrust a witness's testimony if s/he has a past conviction for a moral turpitude offense involving dishonesty or similar behavior.

Example: Gilbert is on trial for assault with a deadly weapon. He will testify in his own defense at his trial.

But Gilbert also has a past felony conviction for willfully failing to appear in court after being granted bail. Because this is a crime of moral turpitude, the prosecutor uses this past conviction to impeach his credibility – leading the jury to question whether his testimony is believable.26

3. Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude and Professional License Issues

Another major impact that a crime of moral turpitude conviction could have on your life is the loss of employment or a professional license.

Specifically, if you are a California lawyer, and you are convicted of any crime of moral turpitude, you may be either

  • suspended from the practice of law, or
  • disbarred.28

Disbarred

Or, if you are a California state employee in any capacity, you will be subject to discipline—and possibly suspension from or the loss of your job—if you are convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.29

4. Legal Definition of “Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude”

According to Pasadena criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse:30

“Given the significant consequences of a conviction of a crime of moral turpitude, you would think that California law would provide a clear definition of just what a crime of moral turpitude is. But in fact the law in this area is quite vague—and constantly open to analysis and reinterpretation by California and federal courts.”

The phrase “crime of moral turpitude” is not defined anywhere in California statutes or federal immigration law. Instead, judges have had to formulate the definition—and decide which crimes count and which ones don't.31

The basic legal definition of a crime of moral turpitude is a crime that involves either

  • Dishonesty (including fraud), or
  • Base, vile, and/or depraved conduct that “shocks the public conscience.”32

Even this basic definition is not much help, though—since the question of what kind of behavior is bad enough to shock the public conscience leaves room for much difference of opinion.33

4.1. Criminal intent

One hallmark of crimes involving moral turpitude is that they are almost always intent crimes. This means that the elements of the crime must include some form of criminal intent.34

This, in turn, means that crimes involving moral turpitude generally don't include so-called “strict liability” crimes (such as traffic tickets) or crimes that only require negligence a mental state.35

This makes sense when you think about it.  A CIMT is supposed to be a crime that is morally reprehensible. It shouldn't include a crime that can be the result of a mere mistake, accident, or bad judgment call.

Example: Marek is an immigrant from Poland and a U.S. green card holder. Because of a domestic dispute, police are summoned to his home, and they bring a K-9 unit dog with them. Marek, who is afraid of dogs, kicks and attacks the dog.

He is then charged with—and pleads guilty to—assault on a law enforcement officer. In New Jersey, where all this occurs, that crime does not require any intent to harm an officer. Instead, it requires only negligence. (In contrast, the California crime of battery on a police officer does require that the attack be willful.36)

Because only negligence is required, Marek has not committed a crime of moral turpitude that will affect his immigration status.37

Recklessness and crimes of moral turpitude

One question on which the law is currently not entirely clear is whether recklessness is enough to make a crime one involving moral turpitude.

Recklessness is defined as a conscious disregard for a substantial risk that someone will be injured or killed by your actions. It lies somewhere between specific intent to commit a crime, and mere negligence.38 One crime that has recklessness as an element is the form of California arson known as “reckless burning.”39

Some courts have held that recklessness is enough to make a crime into a crime of moral turpitude.40 But others feel that it isn't.41

4.2. Categorical approach / least adjudicative elements test

When trying to determine whether you have been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, a court will look at the generic definition of the crime you were convicted of—NOT the specific details of what you actually did.42

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In general, judges look only to the statutory definition of the crime to determine if you committed a crime of moral turpitude.

In criminal immigration law, courts call this the “categorical approach.”43 In the context of cases involving CIMTs and impeachment of witnesses, California courts call it the “least adjudicative elements test.”44

In some cases, one criminal statute will criminalize two or more kinds of behavior—some of which are crimes of moral turpitude, and some of which are not. In these sorts of cases, courts apply what they call the “modified categorical approach.” Under the modified categorical approach, they look at a few specific documents from your criminal case to determine exactly what behavior you were convicted of.45

The documents a court is allowed to look at to determine if you committed a crime of moral turpitude are:

  • The indictment,
  • The judgment of conviction,
  • The jury instructions,
  • A signed guilty plea, and
  • The transcript from the plea proceedings.46

Example: Ed, a green card holder from Mexico, is arrested for violating Penal Code 273.5 PC, California's law against corporal injury on a spouse.

This law criminalizes violence against both a current or former spouse, and any person with whom one lives. Courts have held that it is a crime of moral turpitude to commit this crime against a spouse—but not against someone with whom the defendant has only been living.47

Therefore, under the least adjudicative elements test, Ed's conviction for Penal Code 273.5 PC is not necessarily a conviction for a CIMT. It will be a CIMT only if the documents listed above clearly show that Ed committed the crime of domestic abuse with corporal injury against a wife or ex-wife.

There is one exception to this rule: in attorney discipline cases, courts can look at the specific facts of your case to determine whether or not what you did involved moral turpitude.48

In other words, even if you are convicted of a crime that based on its statutory definition does not necessarily involve moral turpitude—the California State Bar may still look at the record of your trial and conviction and determine that you committed the crime in a way that involved moral turpitude.

5. Which Crimes are Crimes of Moral Turpitude?

With that definition in mind, which California crimes are and are not crimes of moral turpitude?

It is not possible to list every crime that could involve moral turpitude. Moreover, courts continue to disagree on whether certain crimes are CIMTs.49

All that said, here is a list of some of the major offenses that have been held to be crimes of moral turpitude:

  • Assault with intent to commit murder,50
  • Attempted lewd acts on a minor,51
  • Arson,52
  • Burglary,53
  • Child abuse,54
  • Criminal threats,55
  • Domestic violence when committed against your spouse,56
  • Failure to register as a sex offender,57
  • Felon in possession of a firearm,58
  • Felony hit and run,59
  • Grand theft auto,60
  • Murder,61
  • Perjury,62
  • Possession for sale of controlled substances,63
  • Rape,64
  • Receiving stolen property,65
  • Robbery,66
  • Trespass with the intent to injure any property or property rights, or interfere with the conduct of business,67
  • Voluntary manslaughter,68
  • Welfare fraud.69

Crimes which are not CIMTs

Given how long the list of crimes of moral turpitude is, you may be wondering which crimes do not qualify as crimes involving moral turpitude.

Some examples of offenses that courts have held are not CIMTs are:

  • Child endangerment,70
  • Domestic violence committed on someone other than your spouse,71
  • Most simple first offenses of California DUI,72
  • Involuntary manslaughter,73
  • Kidnapping without any aggravating factors,74
  • Possession of marijuana,75 and
  • Simple assault without any aggravating factors.76

6. Post-Conviction Relief and Crimes of Moral Turpitude

If you are a non-U.S. citizen with a conviction for a California crime of moral turpitude on your record, you may still be able to avoid the immigration consequences of that conviction.

An experienced California criminal immigration attorney can offer you advice on the possibility of receiving some kind of post-conviction relief. This can mean that your previous conviction won't count against you for immigration purposes.

Some of the most common forms of post-conviction relief are:

  • Reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor,
  • Motion to vacate a conviction based on a guilty plea if you were not advised of the immigration consequences of the plea,77
  • Re-sentencing so that your new, lesser sentence does not trigger immigration consequences, and
  • Motion to vacate a conviction based on a claim that you received ineffective assistance of counsel (i.e., bad legal advice).78


Call Us for Help…

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If you or loved one is charged with crimes of moral turpitude and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.

Legal References:


1 Immigration & Nationality Act (“INA”) 237(a)(2)(A), 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A). (“(i) Crimes of moral turpitude [important concept for criminal immigration law]. Any alien who-- (I) is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude committed within five years (or 10 years in the case of an alien provided lawful permanent resident status under section 1255(j) of this title) after the date of admission, and (II) is convicted of a crime for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed, is deportable. (ii) Multiple criminal convictions Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude, not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct, regardless of  whether confined therefor and regardless of whether the convictions were in a single trial, is deportable.”)

See also INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I), 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(I). (“(2) Criminal and related grounds (A) Conviction of certain crimes (i) In general Except as provided in clause (ii), any alien convicted of, or who admits having committed, or who admits committing acts which constitute the essential elements of-- (I) a crime involving moral turpitude (other than a purely political offense) or an attempt or conspiracy to commit such a crime . . . ,”)

2 People v. Harris, (2005) 37 Cal.4th 310, 337. (“Past criminal conduct involving moral turpitude that has some logical bearing on the veracity of a witness in a criminal proceeding is admissible to impeach.”)

3 See, e.g., Business & Professions Code 6101(a) BPC – Disbarment or suspension of attorneys for crimes of moral turpitude. (“(a) Conviction of a felony or misdemeanor, involving moral turpitude, constitutes a cause for disbarment or suspension. In any proceeding, whether under this article or otherwise, to disbar or suspend an attorney on account of that conviction, the record of conviction shall be conclusive evidence of guilt of the crime of which he or she has been convicted.”)

4 INA 237(a)(2)(A), endnote 1, above.

5 INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I), endnote 1, above.

6INA 245, 8 U.S.C. 1255 – Adjustment of status of nonimmigrant to that of person admitted for permanent residence [can be affected by conviction of a crime of moral turpitude]. (“(a) The status of an alien who was inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States 1/ or the status of any other alien having an approved petition for classification as a VAWA self-petitioner 1aa/ may be adjusted by the Attorney General, in his discretion and under such regulations as he may prescribe, to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence if (1) the alien makes an application for such adjustment, (2) the alien is eligible to receive an immigrant visa and is admissible to the United States for permanent residence, and(3) an immigrant visa is immediately available to him at the time his application is filed. . . . (i) (1) 2a/ Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) and (c) of this section, an alien physically present in the United States—(A) who—(i) entered the United States without inspection; . . . (2) Upon receipt of such an application and the sum hereby required, the Attorney General may adjust the status of the alien to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence if- (A) the alien is eligible to receive an immigrant visa and is admissible to the United States for permanent residence; and(B) an immigrant visa is immediately available to the alien at the time the application is filed.”)

7 See, e.g., People v. Harris, endnote 2, above.

8 Business & Professions Code 6101(a) BPC – Disbarment or suspension of attorneys for crimes of moral turpitude, endnote 3, above.

9 Government Code Section 19572(k) GC. (“Each of the following constitutes cause for discipline of an employee, or of a person whose name appears on any employment list…(k) Conviction of a felony or conviction of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude. A plea or verdict of guilty, or a conviction following a plea of nolo contendere, to a charge of a felony or any offense involving moral turpitude is deemed to be a conviction within the meaning of this section.”)

10 See Nunez v. Holder, (2010) 594 F.3d 1124, 1124. (“Once again we face the question of what is moral turpitude [for purposes of criminal immigration law]: a nebulous question that we are required to answer on the basis of judicially established categories of criminal conduct.”)

11 In re Craig, (1938) 12 Cal.2d 93, 97. (“Moral turpitude [a key concept in criminal immigration law] has been defined by many authorities 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.”)

12 People v. Parrish, (1985) 170 Cal.App.3d 336, 349.

13 See INA 237, endnote 1, above [deportable crimes, including crimes of moral turpitude].

14 See INA 212, endnote 1, above [inadmissible crimes, including crimes of moral turpitude].

15 See INA 237, endnote 1, above [deportable crimes, including crimes of moral turpitude].

16 People v. Castro, (1985) 38 Cal.3d 301, 317.

17 People v. Bautista, (1990) 217 Cal.App.3d 1, 7.

18 See INA 245, endnote 6, above.

See also INA 316(a) [naturalization requirements].

19 See INA 212, endnote 1, above [inadmissible crimes, including crimes of moral turpitude].

20 See same. See also INA 237, endnote 1, above [deportable crimes, including crimes of moral turpitude].

21 See INA 212, endnote 1, above [inadmissible crimes, including crimes of moral turpitude].

22 People v. Parrish, (1985) 170 Cal.App.3d 336, 349.

23 Penal Code 473 PC – Forgery [crime of moral turpitude]; punishment. (“("Forgery is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.")

24 Black's Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009), impeachment. (“2. The act of discrediting a witness, as by catching the witness in a lie or by demonstrating that the witness has been convicted of a criminal offense [such as a crime of moral turpitude].”)

25 People v. Maestas, (2005) 132 Cal.App.4th 1552, 1556. (“Any felony conviction necessarily involving moral turpitude may be used to impeach a witness at a criminal proceeding. . . . If a felony conviction does not necessarily involve moral turpitude, it is inadmissible for impeachment as a matter of law.”)

26 People v. Cadogan, (2009) 173 Cal.App.4th 1502, 1514. (“Past criminal conduct involving moral turpitude that has some logical bearing on the veracity of a witness in a criminal proceeding is admissible to impeach a witness.”)

27 Based on the facts of People v. Maestas, endnote 25, above.

28 Business & Professions Code 6101(a) BPC – Disbarment or suspension of attorneys for crimes of moral turpitude, endnote 3, above.

29 Government Code Section 19572(k) GC, endnote 9, above.

30 Pasadena criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse is the Managing Attorney of Shouse Law Group. He is a former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney, where he worked on complex, high profile gang, murder, and firearms cases. Now, Shouse has turned the inside knowledge he gained as a prosecutor into extraordinary expertise in criminal defense law, including the intersection of criminal and immigration law and thorny legal issues such as crimes of moral turpitude. He appears in criminal court defending citizen and non-citizen clients throughout southern California.

31 See Nunez v. Holder, (2010) 594 F.3d 1124, 1124. (“Once again we face the question of what is moral turpitude [for purposes of criminal immigration law]: a nebulous question that we are required to answer on the basis of judicially established categories of criminal conduct.”)

32 Same, at 1131.

33 See same, at 1127. (“There is simply no overall agreement on many issues of morality in contemporary society.”)

34 Fernandez-Ruiz v. Gonzales, (9th Cir. 2006) 468 F.3d 1159, 1165-66. (“Indeed, this circuit's precedent generally requires “willfulness” or  “evil intent” in order for a crime to be classified as one involving moral turpitude.”)

35 See Partyka v. Att'y Gen. of the U.S., (3rd Cir. 2005) 417 F.3d 408, 414. (“Under either standard, the hallmark of moral turpitude is a reprehensible act committed with an appreciable level of consciousness or deliberation. The negligent infliction of bodily injury lacks this essential culpability requirement.”)

36 Penal Code 242 PC – Battery [this IS a crime of moral turpitude]. (“Battery defined. A battery is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.")

37 Based on the facts of Partyka v. Att'y Gen., endnote 35 above.

38 Black's Law Dictionary (9th ed. 2009), recklessness. (“Conduct whereby the actor does not desire harmful consequence but nonetheless foresees the possibility and consciously takes the risk. Recklessness involves a greater degree of fault than negligence but a lesser degree of fault than intentional wrongdoing. 2. The state of mind in which a person does not care about the consequences of his or her actions.”)

39 Penal Code 452 PC – Reckless burning [may be a crime of moral turpitude]. ("A person is guilty of unlawfully causing a fire when he recklessly sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned, any structure, forest land or property.")

40 Partyka v. Att'y Gen., endnote 34, above, at 414. (“In recent years, however, the BIA has found moral turpitude to inhere in serious crimes committed recklessly, i.e., with a conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that serious injury or death would follow. See Matter of Medina, 15 I. & N. Dec. 611, 614, 1976 WL 32319 (BIA 1976) (concluding that moral turpitude inheres in aggravated assault with a deadly weapon even if one acts not with intent, but with recklessness, because the “definition of recklessness requires an actual awareness of the risk created by the criminal violator's action”). Recently, this Court has expressed its approval of this approach.”)

41 Fernandez-Ruiz v. Gonzales, endnote 34 above, at 1166-67. (“Although a finding of willfulness and/or evil intent is necessary in order to establish moral turpitude, Arizona's class 2 misdemeanor assault does not require a willful or intentional act. Rather, one can be convicted under subsection (A)(1) for “ recklessly causing any physical injury to another person.” Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-1203(A)(1) (emphasis added). As the en banc court     observed, “reckless conduct as defined by Arizona law is not purposeful.” Fernandez-Ruiz, at 1132 (citing Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-105(c)).FN7 Because spousal abuse without the additional element of willfulness is not a crime involving moral turpitude, and because Fernandez-Ruiz was convicted of an offense that does not require willfulness, his Arizona class 2 misdemeanor assault conviction does not, for this reason alone, categorically qualify as a crime of moral turpitude.”)

42 People v. Castro, (1985) 38 Cal.3d 301, 316. ("Therefore, as in the Finley-Crowson line of cases, a witness' prior conviction should only be admissible for impeachment if the least adjudicated elements of the conviction necessarily involve moral turpitude. We reemphasize that even such admissibility is subject to trial court discretion under section 352.")

See also Huerta-Guevara v. Ashcroft, (9th Cir. 2003) 321 F.3d 883, 887. (“[Courts will compare] “the elements of the statute of conviction to the generic definition [of a certain crime of moral turpitude], and decide whether the conduct proscribed is broader than, and so does not categorically fall within, this generic definition.”)

See also Cuevas-Gaspar v. Gonzales, (9th Cir. 2005), 430 F.3d 1013, 1017. (“The issue is not whether the actual conduct constitutes a crime involving moral turpitude, but rather, whether the full range of conduct encompassed by the statute constitutes a crime of moral turpitude.”)

43 Fernandez-Ruiz v. Gonzales, endnote 34 above, at 1163. ("To determine whether a specific crime falls within the category of “crimes involving moral turpitude,” we apply the categorical and modified categorical approaches . . . .”)

44 See People v. Castro, endnote 42, above.

45 Fernandez-Ruiz v. Gonzales, endnote 34 above, at 1163-64. (“If the statute of conviction is not a categorical match because it criminalizes both conduct that does and does not involve moral turpitude, we apply a “modified” categorical approach “under which we may look beyond the language of the statute to a narrow, specified set of documents that are part of the record of conviction, including the indictment, the judgment of conviction, jury instructions, a signed guilty plea, or the transcript from the plea proceedings.” Tokatly v. Ashcroft, 371 F.3d 613, 620 (9th Cir.2004) (internal quotation marks omitted). We may not, however, “look beyond the record of conviction itself to the particular facts underlying the conviction.” Id.”)

46 See same.

47 Morales-Garcia v. Holder, (9th Cir. 2009) 567 F.3d 1058, 1067.

48 See People v. Cavazos, (1985) 172 Cal.App.3d 589, 595. (“The Supreme Court holdings in attorney discipline cases that assault with a deadly weapon does not necessarily involve moral turpitude should be distinguished. In those cases, the court was formulating a standard by which to determine the attorney's fitness to continue his practice according to the ethical standards of his profession. Simple fairness requires the court to look behind the conviction to ascertain the precise nature of the assault and the circumstances in which it occurred. The bare fact of conviction does not determine the attorney's fitness to practice.”)

49 Compare Nunez v. Holder, endnote 10 above [holding that indecent exposure is not a crime of moral turpitude), with People v. Ballard, (1993) 13 Cal.App.4th 687, 697. ("Under California law, the offense of felony indecent exposure, a crime of moral turpitude, was properly used to impeach appellant's testimony.").

50 People v. Omledo, (1985) 167 Cal.App.3d 1085, 1098. (“We conclude therefore that assault with intent to murder involves moral turpitude.")

51 In re Lesansky, (2001) 25 Cal.4th 11.

52 People v. Miles, (1985) 172 Cal.App.3d 474, 482. (“We therefore necessarily conclude that under Castro, the least adjudicated elements of [arson] necessarily involve an intent 'to do evil' or, in other words, moral turpitude.")

53 People v. Collins, (1986) 42 Cal.3d 378, 395. (“Applying this procedure to the case at bar, we determine first whether the two prior convictions challenged in defendant's motion to exclude -- burglary and robbery -- are inadmissible as a matter of law because they do not necessarily involve moral turpitude. To answer this question we look to the elements of each crime. Burglary is committed by every person 'who enters any house [or other structure or vehicle listed in the statute] ... with intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony.' An intent to commit larceny evidences a willingness to act dishonestly, and ipso facto reflects on the witness's credibility. Although an intent to commit 'any felony'  includes both felonies that necessarily involve moral turpitude and felonies that do not, the distinction is immaterial for present purposes: whether or not the target felony itself evidences a moral defect, burglary remains in all cases the fundamentally deceitful act of entering a house or other listed structure with the secret intent to steal or commit another serious crime inside. A felony conviction of such an act demonstrates a 'readiness to do evil' and hence necessarily involves moral turpitude”)

54 People v. Brooks, (1992) 3 Cal.App.4th 669, 671. (“Mindful of the advice in Castro, the People refer us to a federal decision involving immigration law. In Guerrero de Nodahl v. Immigration and Naturalization Serv., the court upheld a determination of the Board of Immigration Appeals that section 273d was a crime of moral turpitude and conviction of that offense justified the petitioner's deportation. The court stated: '[W]e rule that inflicting cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or injury upon a child is so offensive to American ethics that the fact that it was done purposely or willingly definition of willful) ends the debate on whether moral turpitude was involved.' We agree with the conclusion of the federal court in Guerrero de Nodahl that section 273d is a crime of moral turpitude so that a prior conviction for this offense may be used for impeachment.”)

55 Latter-Singh v. Holder, (9th Cir. 2012) 668 F.3d 1156.

56 Grageda v. INS, (9th Cir. 1993) 12 F.3d 919.

57 Matter of Tobar-Lobo, (BIA 2007) 24 I&N Dec. 143.

58 People v. Littrel, (1986) 185 Cal.App.3d 699, 703.

59 People v. Bautista, (1990) 217 Cal.3d 1, 7.

60 People v. Rodriguez, (1986) 177 Cal.App.3d 174, 178. ("Several post-Castro cases have also held that the felony of automobile theft necessarily involves moral turpitude. Since attempted automobile theft requires a specific intent to steal and a direct but ineffectual act done toward its commission.it follows that the 'least adjudicated elements' of the crime of attempted automobile theft also necessarily involves moral turpitude.")

61 People v. Johnson, (191) 233 Cal.App.3d 425, 459.

62 People v. Rollo, (1977) 20 Cal.3d 109, 118.

63 People v. Castro, (1985) 38 C.3d 301, 317.

64 People v. Mazza, (1985) 175 Cal.App.3d 836, 844.

65 People v. Rodriguez, (1986) 177 Cal.App.3d 174, 179.

66 People v. Stewart, (1985) 171 Cal.App.3d 59, 66.

67 See Matter of Esfandiary, (BIA 1979) 16 I&N Dec. 659.

68 People v. Partner, (1986) 180 Cal.App.3d 178, 187.

69 Matter of Cortez, (BIA 2010) 25 I&N. Dec. 301.

70 People v. Saunders, (1992) 10 Cal.App.4th 1268, 1274).

71 Morales-Garcia v. Holder, (9th Cir. 2009), 567 F.3d 1058.

72 Hernandez-Perez v. Holder, (8th Cir. 2009) 569 F.3d 345, 348.

73 People v. Solis, (1986) 172 Cal.App.3d 877, 883.

74 Castrijon-Garcia v. Holder, (9th Cir. 2013) 704 F.3d 1205.

75 People v. Valdez, (1986) 177 Cal.App.3d 680, 697.

76 People v. Cavazos, endnote 47 above.

77 Penal Code 1016.5 PC – Advisement concerning status as alien [immigration consequences of California crime of moral turpitude convictions]. (“(a) Prior to acceptance of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to any offense punishable as a crime under state law, except offenses designated as infractions under state law, the court shall administer the following advisement on the record to the defendant: If you are not a citizen, you are hereby advised that conviction of the offense for which you have been charged [if it is a crime of moral turpitude] may have the consequences of deportation, exclusion from admission to the United States, or denial of naturalization pursuant to the laws of the United States. (b) Upon request, the court shall allow the defendant additional time to consider the appropriateness of the plea in light of the advisement as described in this section. If, after January 1, 1978, the court fails to advise the defendant as required by this section and the defendant shows that conviction of the offense to which defendant pleaded guilty or nolo contendere may have the consequences for the defendant of deportation, exclusion from admission to the United States, or denial of naturalization pursuant to the laws of the United States, the court, on defendant's motion, shall vacate the judgment and permit the defendant to withdraw the plea of guilty or nolo contendere, and enter a plea of not guilty. Absent a record that the court provided the advisement required by this section, the defendant shall be presumed not to have received the required advisement.”)

78 See People v. Lucas, (1995) 12 Cal.4th 415, 436. (“A criminal defendant [including a non-citizen accused of a crime involving moral turpitude] is guaranteed the right to the assistance of counsel by both the state and federal Constitutions.”)

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