What is a crime involving moral turpitude (‘CIMT’)? Generally speaking, there is not an enumerated list of CIMT. That said, ‘moral turpitude’ is generally defined as conduct that “is inherently base, vile, depraved, and contrary to accepted rules of morality and the duties owed to other persons, either individually or to society in general.” In essence, a CIMT as any “reprehensible conduct” that involves any form of scienter, which means that a person has knowledge of the “wrongness” of his conduct prior to actually doing it. This is why acts of negligence are generally not considered CIMT, while acts of recklessness are. The key test for moral turpitude is the presence of evil intent.

Acts against property are typically considered acts of dishonesty and thus are generally deemed CIMT, These types of crimes thus include not only denial of professional licenses, employment opportunities but also negative immigration consequences and possible deportation issues. Juveniles and students charged with property crimes also may face academic consequences.

Some prime examples of crimes that may constitute CIMT are: (1) Shoplifting/Theft. Theft charges can range from the misdemeanor level to the felony level. Typically, theft charges stem from stolen merchandise, but can include theft of personal property as well. If the items are valued at under $750, the charge would amount to a misdemeanor. If over $750, a felony charge would typically apply. (2) Malicious Mischief. A person can be charged with malicious mischief if there is an allegation of intentional property damage. This could include broken property or defacement of property, such as graffiti. Malicious mischief can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the amount of damage caused. Penalties for this type of crime could include jail time, house arrest, a fine, probation, community service and/or restitution. (3) Forgery. If a person creates, falsifies or alters a written instrument (like a check, will, certificate, license, passport etc.), he or she could be charged with forgery, a Class C Felony in Washington State. The maximum penalty for forgery is 5 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. (4) Burglary. Burglary includes residential burglary as well as breaking and entering into any other type of property. If a deadly weapon is used or someone is assaulted during the burglary, enhanced penalties may apply. For instance, the use of a gun in the commission of the crime could enhance penalties by three years, a knife by two years. (5) Robbery. The crime of robbery occurs when a person takes the property of another by using force. If armed with a deadly weapon at the time, the charge becomes a Class A felony which has a potential for life imprisonment. Robbery is considered a “strike offense” and is subject to Washington’s “Three Strikes” law.

If you or a loved one is charged with a CIMT you should immediately seek the advice and/or assistance of a qualified Seattle criminal defense attorney. The Seattle Criminal Defense Attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether you are charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or a felony CIMT, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900.

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