A crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) in Nevada is an offense where the person acts with malicious intent, such as (1) violent crimes, (2) sex offenses, (3) fraud, and (4) theft.
Visa– or green card-holders can be deported for having committed a CIMT within five years of coming to the U.S. And all other foreigners who committed a CIMT may be inadmissible to the U.S. indefinitely.
Below our Las Vegas immigration attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about crimes involving moral turpitude in Nevada. Click on a topic to go directly to that section.
- 1. What is a “crime involving moral turpitude”?
- 2. What crimes are considered CIMTs in Nevada?
- 3. Will I be deported?
- 4. Can I get a visa?
- 5. Can I get a green card?
- 6. Can I become a citizen?
Also see our article about aggravated felonies, many of which are considered CIMTs.
Crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMTs, a.k.a. crimes of moral turpitude) are a category of felonies and misdemeanors that courts consider to be especially depraved and malicious. These typically include violent crimes, sex crimes, stealing, and fraud. Because of the seriousness of CIMTs, an immigration judge may remove a non-citizen from the United States if he/she has committed one.
One factor most CIMTs have in common is that they require a deliberate intent to do ill. The person has to intend to carry out the CIMT in order to be guilty of it. For example, shoplifting is a CIMT since in Nevada the person must intend to steal something in order to be convicted of it. If the person innocently forgot to pay for something in a store, then he/she is not guilty of shoplifting in Nevada and therefore did not commit a CIMT.
States differ about which crimes are considered CIMTs, which is why it is difficult to define. In Nevada, examples of the more common CIMTs include the following:
- voluntary manslaughter
- lewdness with a minor under 16
- some theft crimes
- possibly burglary
- carrying a concealed weapon with intent to use
- unpaid casino markers
CIMTs usually do not include such non-intent offenses as DUI: Since the driver does not have to intend to drive drunk in order to be found guilty of driving drunk in Nevada, DUI does not have the ‘deliberate’ factor CIMTs require. Similarly, involuntary manslaughter is not a CIMT precisely because it is an unintentional offense.
A legal alien (such as a visa-holder or green card holder) who has been convicted of only one CIMT may be deported if:
- the CIMT allegedly took place within five (5) years after he/she has been admitted to the U.S., and
- the crime’s maximum sentence was at least one (1) year, regardless of how much time was actually served.
But if an alien has two or more CIMT convictions, he/she may be deported despite his/her sentences or how long ago the CIMTs allegedly took place.1
Note that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has prosecutorial discretion over which non-citizens to arrest and attempt to deport for which alleged crimes. Non-citizens taken into ICE custody in Clark County are detained at Las Vegas Immigration Jail, and their cases are handled in Las Vegas Immigration Court.
Foreigners who have committed even just one CIMT are automatically inadmissible into the U.S. and therefore ineligible for a visa. The only exception is “the petty offense exception.” The petty offense exception is when the CIMT’s maximum sentence was one (1) year, and the actual sentence the judge imposed was six (6) months or less.
Note that foreigners who merely admit to having committed a CIMT may be inadmissible as well, even if the incident did not result in a conviction. In this situation, the immigration judge has to verify the following factors before the foreigner can be found inadmissible:
- the CIMT in question is considered a crime in the location where it allegedly occurred, and
- the foreigner understands the CIMT’s elements, and
- the foreigner states his/her guilt for committing the CIMT, and
- the foreigner’s admission was totally voluntary.2
Committing a CIMT bars foreigners from getting a green card unless either of the following exceptions applies:
- The foreigner was under 18 when he/she committed the CIMT, more than five (5) years have elapsed since the CIMT occurred, and the foreigner is currently out of jail or prison; or
- The foreigner was convicted of an offense that had a maximum penalty of no more than one (1) year in jail or prison, and the actual jail or prison term was no more than six (6) months. (This is the “petty offense” exception.)3
The more serious CIMTs permanently bar a foreigner from becoming a citizen, such as the:
- fraud (involving a sum of $10,000 or more), and
- theft (that resulted in a prison term of at least one year).
Other CIMTs temporarily bar citizenship for an extra three to five years, including the Nevada crime of prostitution and Nevada crime of fraud (involving less than $10,000).
Note that getting a record sealed does not necessarily increase a foreigner’s chances of immigrating to the U.S. USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) takes into account a foreigner’s entire criminal record — sealed or not — when determining his/her eligibility for immigration.4
Call us if you need help . . . .
All immigrants and non-citizens who have been arrested, charged or convicted of criminal offenses in Nevada are encouraged to call our Las Vegas immigration criminal defense attorneys. We can schedule a consultation to discuss your case and your rights.
For information on California CIMT laws, see our article on California crimes involving moral turpitude.