8th Circuit Requires Immigration Judge To Examine Underlying Facts of Conviction in Determining if the Crime involved Moral Turpitude

Orlando Manuel Godoy Bobadilla, a citizen of Canada, entered the United States in 1997 when he was 17 and became a lawful permanent resident in 1998. Since that time, Bobadilla was convicted of (1) theft and (2) giving a false name to a peace officer during a traffic stop. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), an alien lawfully in the U.S. may be removed (deported) if he is convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT).

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals was recently asked to determine whether providing false information to a police officer constituted a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT)

Bobadilla’s deportation case was originally heard at the Executive Office for Immigration Review.  The Immigration Judge determined, without hearing the facts underlying Bobadilla’s conviction, and without reviewing any original court records, that his offense was a CIMT because fraud was “an element of the offense.” On appeal, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) also concluded that providing false identification was a CIMT. The BIA reasoned that when he provided a false name, Bobadilla attempted to evade responsibility for his action.  The BIA concluded that such an attempt was “inherently, base, vile, and reprehensible” so as to constitute a CIMT.

On appeal, however, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the circumstances surrounding the offense should be examined by the immigration judge in order to determine whether the offense constituted a CIMT. Specifically, the Court noted that because the event occurred at a traffic stop, courts should recognize that many citizens may be less than truthful or cooperative without being base, vile or reprehensible. Additionally, because the statute used to convict Bobadilla did not require proof of an element or fact that showed moral turpitude, the government was prohibited from simply arguing that the crime committed is inherently morally reprehensible. Instead, the Eight Circuit held that the government must show that Bobadilla’s individual conviction was for a crime that in fact involved moral turpitude because the offense in question is not always a CIMT.

If you or a family member has been convicted of multiple crimes that may be considered a crime involving moral turpitude and need assistance with your deportation case, please contact the immigration attorneys at the Hacking Law Practice, LLC, by calling 1-314-961-8200 or by using our online contact form.