What does it exactly mean to find yourself committing a moral turpitude crime? While moral turpitude crimes are not considered a specific offense, they can have negative consequences on the person who committed them. Some of the consequences of this crime include anywhere from losing credibility as a witness, losing professional licenses, to even facing deportation from the United States.
Generally, moral turpitude crimes have the common characteristics to be fraudulent, evil, reckless, and immoral by nature. This blog is intended to cover the crime of petty theft also known as shoplifting (California Penal Code § 484 or § 488). If the value of the goods at issue is $950 or less, it is a crime of moral turpitude. Shoplifting is when one is accused of taking property from a store without paying for it or changing price tags to lower the amount of the item. As a Non-U.S citizen who may have just came to America and has limited financial sources, it might be even more tempting to commit this crime, and it might almost feel as if it's easy to achieve when no one is watching, however, the seemingly minor crime can have very serious consequences that are not worth the risk and the punishments.
There are three main categories of consequences that one can face as a result of committing petty theft. First, is limiting your credibility as a witness. If you are in a court of law as a witness, prosecution or opposing counsel can use your prior conviction against you to undermine your credibility in a legal proceeding. Second, this can have a negative impact on your job, as you may lose your professional license. Often, many professional boards can suspend or even revoke your license, which will ultimately lead to an end of source of income, career, and diminish your future in the States. Lastly, the worse consequence of all is that your conviction can affect your ability to obtain or maintain a green card, or visa; which will result in deportation or even prohibition from entering the country ever again.
What to do if you have been convicted of this crime? Depending on the price of the stolen property and the state law, one can get charged with a misdemeanor, unless the stolen property was a higher amount, which can then lead to a felony charge. There are several steps and procedures to this process. First, and foremost, you will be given the chance to present your case in an immigration court. It is highly recommended to hire an experienced attorney to assist you with this process in order to avoid being banned from the United States. At last, don't give up your dreams and opportunities in a great nation over a few stolen items or property that can haunt you.
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