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Identifying whether your offence is a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT)

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This is a short information page about moral turpitude.

The aim of this page is to set out a list of UK offences and highlight those which would not be deemed to be a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT) and which would therefore enable you to travel to the USA using the Visa Waiver Programme (ESTA).

Introduction

Moral turpitude is a legal concept in the United States and, although there is no set statutory definition, crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT) have been identified in the US as those that involve conduct that is shocking to the public conscience; vile or depraved or contrary to the rules, morality, and duties of society.

This is important because, if your offence is a CIMT, you will normally have to apply for a visa before you can travel to the US.

This is part of our information on travelling to the US, and in particular the section on ‘Do I need a visa?‘.

Is my offence a crime involving moral turpitude?

From the information available from the US Embassy, it can be difficult to match a UK offence with a US equivalent and therefore not always easy to establish whether your offence would be deemed to be a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT). To help you identify whether your offence is a CIMT (or not), we’ve put together a list of the 80 most common UK offences.

Using the table

The table below sets out a list of the 80 most common UK offences in alphabetical order. Those marked ‘Yes’ would, in our opinion, be deemed to be a crime involving moral turpitude.

Where we don’t feel that an offence is a CIMT, we’ve set out our reasons for reaching that decision.

If your offence is not a CIMT then, you can travel to the US for tourism or business stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa; you would be able to travel using the Visa Waiver Programme (ESTA).

Offence Is a crime involving moral turpitudeWhy
AbductionYes
AffrayThe offence is NOT a CIMT if you are able to demonstrate that there was no intent to harm persons or things.
Arson & attempted arsonYes
Assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH) If you are able to demonstrate that there was no intent to cause ABH then the offence is NOT a CIMT.
If the ABH was an act of domestic violence then it IS a CIMT.
Assault occasioning grievous bodily harm (GBH)If you are able to demonstrate that there was no intent to cause GBH then the offence is NOT a CIMT.
If the GBH was an act of domestic violence then it IS a CIMT.
Assaulting a police constableThe offence is NOT a CIMT if it did not result in bodily injury or if the offence was not wilful.
Assisting an offenderYes
BatteryThe offence is NOT a CIMT if you are able to demonstrate that there was no evil intent or depraved motive.
Benefit fraudYes
BlackmailYes
BigamyYes
Breach of the peaceCrimes of regulatory character such as this one are NOT a CIMT.
Brothel-keepingYes
BuggeryThe UK Parliament repealed buggery laws in England and Wales in 1967.
BurglaryYes
Carrying out regulated activity without being registeredOn its own it's unlikely to be a CIMT. However, it's likely to be linked to a charge of 'making false representation' which IS a CIMT.
Causing/inciting a child to engage in sexual activityYes
Child neglectYes
Common assaultCommon assault is the equivalent of the US simple assault. If there is no evil intent nor the use of a dangerous weapon, it is NOT a CIMT.
Conspiracy to commit murderYes
Conspiracy to defraudYes
Contempt of courtSince contempt of court is not usually motivated by vile intent, it is NOT a CIMT.
Criminal damageThe offence is NOT a CIMT if the damage was to private property. For all other criminal damage offences, it IS a CIMT.
Cruelty to animalsThere is no mention of this offence in the list of crimes included in the definition of moral turpitude.
Cruelty to childrenYes
Death by dangerous drivingYes
Downloading indecent images of childrenYes
Driving a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of drink or drugsThe offence in itself, without any aggrevating factors, is NOT a CIMT.
Driving without due care and attentionThe offence, if not carried out with an evil intent, is NOT a CIMT.
Drunk and disorderlyCrimes or regulatory character such as this are NOT a CIMT.
Failing to notify a change of circumstancesYesUsually linked to benefit fraud and IS a CIMT.
Failing to provide a specimenThis offence is not serious enough and therefore is NOT a CIMT.
Failing to stop after an accidentSince the offence is not usually motivated by a vile intent, it is NOT a CIMT.
False accountingYes
Fly-tippingDumping waste is NOT a CIMT.
ForgeryYes
Fraud by abuse of positionYes
Going equipped for theft
Handling stolen goodsIf you are in possession of property which you have no knowledge is stolen, then this is NOT a CIMT. If your are aware, then it IS a CIMT.
HarassmentWould NOT be a CIMT unless it was racially aggravated.
HijackingYes
Human traffickingYes
ImportationYes
Indecent assaultYes
Indecent exposureYes
KidnappingKidnapping is NOT a CIMT.
Aggravated kidnapping IS a CIMT.
Malicious woundingYes
Making false representationYes
Making or possessig explosivesIf there was no intent to cause harm it would NOT be a CIMT.
ManslaughterYes
MurderYes
Obtaining property by deceptionYes
Outraging public decencyYes
Possession of a controlled drugSimply possessing or using a controlled substance is NOT a CIMT.
Possession of class A, B or C drugsIf you were in possession of class A,B or C drugs, this is NOT a CIMT. If you had the intention of distributing them, then it IS a CIMT.
Possession of a firearmPossession of a firearm without any aggravating factors (such as illicit trafficking in firearms, or transferring of a firearm knowing that it will be suse to commit a crime) is NOT a CIMT.
Pessession of indecent images of childrenYes
Possessing, making and distributing indecent images of childrenYes
ProstitutionYes
Racially or religiously aggravated assaultYes
RapeYes
Receiving stolen goodsIf you are in possession of propery which you have no knowledge is stolen then this is NOT a CIMT. If you are aware, then it IS a CIMT.
Resisting arrestThe offence, if it was not conducted with inherently vile motives, is NOT a CIMT.
RobberyYes
Sexual assaultYes
ShopliftingYes
SolicitingYes
StalkingYes
Taking a motor vehicle without consentYes
Theft by employeeYes
Theft from dwellingYes
Theft from non-dwellingYes
Threatening behaviourIf you have been convicted of threatening behaviour (under Section 4 of the Public Order Act) this is NOT a CIMT.
Threats to killYes
Travelling on a railway without paying a fareIf you have received a FPN then this is NOT a CIMT. If you have been prosecuted in court then this would be dealt with as fraud and IS a CIMT.
TrespassSimply trespassing is NOT a CIMT.
Supplied of a controlled drugYes
Supply of class A, B or C drugYes
Using threatening, abusive, insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear
Violent disorder
VoyeurismYes
Wasting police time

* The mere possession of a controlled substance is not sufficient for it to be deemed a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(I)). However, answering ‘Yes’ to the question on the ESTA form which asks ‘Have you ever violated any law related to possessing, using or distributing illegal drugs‘ would make you ineligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Programme.

Useful links

Below you will find links to other useful information relating to travelling to the USA.

More information

  1. For practical information – More information can be found on our travelling to the US section
  2. To discuss this issue with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
  3. Questions –  If you have any questions about this you can contact our helpline.

As this page is new, we’re keen to get your thoughts. Let us know what you think of it and how it could be improved by emailing us at feedback@unlock.org.uk or completing our feedback form.

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Debbie Sadler
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