I'm wondering what the real meaning of moral turpitude is in regards to border crossing (canadian traveling to USA)... mainly interested in finding out of house arrest short sentences for assault causing bodily harm are considered moral turpitude.

And also are arrest charges themselves included in that? Someone could get arrested for the worst crime involving moral turpitude, but then get convicted of a minor charge as the arrest was a mistake.

I have heard that even if you are arrested for something, this is still considered at the border, as who is going to allow someone to cross the border who has been arrested for terrorism related crimes 4 times, but never convicted? It seems like the moral turpitude theory and practice collide... you have a theoretical version of moral turpitude, and then you have the practice...

As this is the law site I guess I'm asking what it is in theory, from a legal standpoint...

Here is some info I already found:




However all the links that point to "list of crimes of moral turpitude" in those articles are dead links or incorrect links, or 404 errors. So, theoretically that page should describe it legally.. but, it's hard to find that page! As it's always a 404 error.

1 Answer 1


Did some research on my question!

The most recent Link to what defines Moral Turpitude is here:


That is the official information on what defines moral turpitude.

Likely the old website links are outdated orphaned links

For Assault causing bodily harm and a house arrest sentence the issue is discussed in the Exception area of that document:


9 FAM 302.3-2(B)(6) (U) Sentencing Exception

a. (U) Provisions Of INA 212(a)(2)(A)(ii)(II): A conviction or admission of the commission of a crime of moral turpitude will not serve as the basis of ineligibility under INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i) under the sentencing exception (also known as the petty offense exception), if the following conditions have been met:

(1) (U) The applicant has been convicted of or has admitted to the commission of only one crime;

(2) (U) The maximum penalty possible for the crime of which the alien was convicted (or which the alien admits having committed, see 9 FAM 302.2-2(B)(4)) did not exceed imprisonment for one year; and

(3) (U) If the alien was convicted of such crime, the alien was not sentenced to a term of imprisonment in excess of six months.

In Canada, an assault causing bodily harm has a maximum sentence of 18 months when it is a summary conviction. So this would be beyond the allowed 12 month limit defined by the exception rules regarding moral turpitude. Assault causing bodily harm via indictment is max 10 years sentence, against over the limit of what moral turpitude

i.e. theoretically, any assault causing bodily harm, is in fact a moral turpitude issue. Simple assault that is not defined as bodily harm in a conviction, is not considered moral turpitude issue.

In practice, there can even be exceptions for bodily harm charges... an example is famous people allowed to cross the border (hockey players, boxers). Mike Tyson, convicted of rape, crossed the border recently, but that was going from US to Canada.

  • As mentioned in my comments to your other question, and with reference to the "exceptions" you mention in the last paragraph, grounds of inadmissibility may be waived. So anyone with a conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude can apply for such a waiver, and sometimes they are granted. I suspect that the likelihood of success increases as more time passes. Also your answer doesn't address the question of arrests without conviction, which should probably be asked as a separate question.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 21:40

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