Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Moral Turpitude Definition:

An act of baseness or depravity contrary to accepted moral standards.

In Grageda v USINS, Justice O'Scannlain of the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit had before him an application to deport an immigrant based on a statute which allowed it if the alien had committed a crime of moral turpitude within five years of entry into the United States.

O'Scannlain adopted these words in finding that a conviction of spousal abuse justified deportation:

"Describing moral turpitude in general terms, courts have said that it is an act of baseness or depravity contrary to accepted moral standards ... an act so basically offensive to American ethics and accepted moral standards.

"Whether a particular crime involves moral turpitude is determined by the statutory definition or by the nature of the crime not by the specific conduct that resulted in the conviction."


  • Grageda v. US Immigration and Naturalization Services, 12 F. 3d 919 (1993)

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