Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

Minor Drug Offenses – Crimes of Moral Turpitude


Minor Drug Offenses Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT):

CIMT “refers generally to conduct which is inherently base, vile or depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general…. Moral turpitude has been defined as an act which is per se morally reprehensible and intrinsically wrong”.

Criminal offenses can be broken down into two general categories malum in se and malum prohibitum. The distinction between malum in se and malum prohibitum offenses is best characterized as follows: a malum in se offense is “naturally evil as adjudged by the sense of a civilized community,” whereas a malum prohibitum offense is wrong only because a statute makes it so.

It is also true to say that not all crimes raise to the level of CIMT even if, as stated, the act is a crime. One could argue that CIMT are more serious crimes.

State v. Horton, 139 N.C. 588, 51 S.E. 945, 946 (1905),
Matter of Franklin, 20 I&N Dec. 867, 867 (BIA 1994), aff’d, 72 F3d 571 (8th Cir.1995);
Matter of Flores, 17 I&N Dec. 225, 227 (BIA)

Simple Minor Drug Possession Without Conviction or Fine

Where someone has been arrested for minor drug possession resulting in no fine or conviction then this is unlikely to rise to a CIMT. Typically, these cases are disposed of by way of a police caution; an verbal reprimand / warning / admonition. No court action or process is involved.

The above having been said, it is important for the alien to make no admissions as to any crimes being committed other than to state the particular facts as they happened.

For example:Question – Have you ever been arrested? Answer – Yes
Answer – Have you ever been convicted for drug use or possession – No.

 Again if requested to give an account as to the nature of the event, the account should be narrowly crafted to state the fact, but not inadvertently admit to “committing acts that constitute the essential elements of a violation of or conspiracy to violate any law or regulation of a state, the U.S., or a foreign country relating to a controlled substances as defined by 21 U.S.C. Section 802 U.S.C. Section 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(II).

There are statutory guidelines that determine that if the amount of drugs where over a certain number of grams then this could cause the alien to be inadmissible and the offense be considered a CIMT.

If the Police did not ascertain the number of grams or the potency of any contraband then the alien has no accurate basis upon which to base any admission.

One can never be overly confident as to the outcome of any immigration matter where even minor drug issues are involved.

The important distinction to make here is that we’re talking only about drug offenses where that was no judicial conviction in any court of law, but where an alien was found to be in possession only of a minor and under determined quality of drugs for which there was no conviction or admission in any judicial proceeding, one can be reasonably confident that they will not be found inadmissible.

Matter of Hernandez-Ponce, 19I&N Dec. 613 (BIA1988),
Matter of Esqueda, 20 I&N Dec. 850 (BIA 1994),
Argaw vs. Ashcroft, 395 F.3d 521 (4th Cir. 2005),
Leyva-Licea vs. INS, 187 F.3d 708, 715 (6th Cir. 2008)Mizrah vs. Gonzales, 492 F. 3d 156 (2nd Cir. 2007)
Peters vs. Ashcroft, 383 F.3d 302 (5th Cir. 2004)
Petty Offense Exception: INA Section 212(a)(2)(A)(ii),
Admission or Possession under 18 years old: 9 FAM 40.21(b) N.2.1.

If you would like to learn more about this area of law with regards to your particular situaiton please do not hesitate to contact this law firm for assistance asap.

Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

US Immigration Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram
Chris M. Ingram LL.M., ESQ – Immigration Attorney
Admitted in New York.
Practice Specializing in US Immigration Law
520 Broadway, Suite 350,
Santa Monica,
California 90401
Tel: 310 496 4292

Everyday the Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram provides a comprehensive range of US Immigration expertise. We also provide a free consultation for our prospective clients.

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