Definition

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    An act of baseness, vileness[,] or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellow men or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man.

    BOUVIER’s LAW DICTIONARY: A CONCISE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE LAW 2246 (Francis Rawle ed., 3d rev, 8th ed., West Pub. 1914); see, e.g., Matter of Mueller, 11 1. & N. Dec. 268 (B.I.A. 1965).

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    Courts have never clearly defined the term "moral turpitude." However, the term is generally understood to [highlight]connote something more than mere illegality or criminality[/highlight], and consequently, it is evaluated based on moral, rather than legal, standards.

    Podgorny, Diana R. “Rethinking the increased focus on penal measures in immigration law as reflected in the expansion of the” aggravated felony” concept.” The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (2009): 287-316.


Specific crimes that have been held to involve moral turpitude include the following:

  • deceptive practices designed to affect the public market price of stocks or shares at the expense of the investing public,
  • obtaining student loans by fraud or false statements,
  • tax evasion,
  • receiving stolen property,
  • conspiracy to launder the proceeds of illegal drug trafficking,
  • knowingly providing false information to a police officer to prevent apprehension or obstruct the prosecution of a person, and
  • aggravated assault against a peace officer.

– Podgorny, Diana R. “Rethinking the increased focus on penal measures in immigration law as reflected in the expansion of the” aggravated felony” concept.” The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (2009): 287-316.


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