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).
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.
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 moral turpitude||Why?|
|Affray||The offence is NOT a CIMT if you're able to demonstrate that there was no intent to harm persons or things.|
|Arson and attempted arson||Yes|
|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 constable||The offence is NOT a CIMT if it did not result in bodily injury or if the offence was not wilful.|
|Assisting an offender||Yes|
|Battery||The offence is NOT a CIMT if you are able to demonstrate that there was no evil intent or depraved motive.|
|Breach of the peace||Crimes of regulatory character such as this one are NOT CIMT.|
|Buggery||The UK Parliament repealed buggery laws in England and Wales in 1967.|
|Carrying out regulated activity without being registered.||On 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 activity||Yes|
|Common assault||Common 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 murder||Yes|
|Conspiracy to defraud||Yes|
|Contempt of court||Since contempt of court is not usually motivated by vile intent, it is NOT a CIMT.|
|Criminal damage||The offence is NOT a CIMT if the damage was to private property. For all other criminal damage offences, it IS a CIMT.|
|Cruelty to animals||There is no mention of this offence in the list of crimes included in the definition of moral turpitude.|
|Cruelty to children||Yes|
|Death by dangerous driving||Yes|
|Downloading indecent images of children||Yes|
|Driving a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of drink or drugs||The offence in itself, without any aggravating factors, is NOT a CIMT.|
|Driving without due care and attention||The offence, if not carried out with an evil intent, is NOT a CIMT.|
|Drunk and disorderly||Crimes of regulatory character such as this are NOT CIMT.|
|Failing to notify a change of circumstances||Yes||Usually linked to benefit fraud and IS a crime of moral turpitude.|
|Failing to provide a specimen||This offence is not serious enough and therefore is NOT a CIMT.|
|Failing to stop after an accident||Since the offence is not usually motivated by a vile intent, it is NOT a CIMT.|
|Fly-tipping||Dumping waste is NOT a CIMT.|
|Fraud by abuse of position||Yes|
|Going equipped for theft||Yes|
|Handling stolen goods||If you are in a possession of property which you have no knowledge is stolen then this is NOT a CIMT. If you are aware, then it IS a CIMT.|
|Harassment||Would NOT be a CIMT unless it was racially aggravated.|
|Kidnapping||Kidnapping is NOT a CIMT. Aggravated kidnapping IS a CIMT.|
|Making false reprseentation||Yes|
|Making or possessing explosives||If there was no intent to cause harm it would NOT be a CIMT.|
|Obtaining property by deception||Yes|
|Outraging public decency||Yes|
|Possession of a controlled drug||*||Simple possessing or using a controlled substance is NOT a CIMT.|
|Possession of class A, B or C drugs||*||If 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 firearm||*||Possession of a firearm without any aggravating factors (such as illicit trafficking in firearms, or transferring of a firearm knowing that it will be used to commit a crime) is NOT a CIMT.|
|Possession of indecent images of children||Yes|
|Possessing, making and distributing indecent images of children||Yes|
|Racially or religiously aggravated assault||Yes|
|Receiving stolen goods||If you are in possession of property which you have no knowledge is stolen then this is NOT a CIMT. If you are aware, then it IS a CIMT.|
|Resisting arrest||The offence, if it was not conducted with inherently vile motives, is NOT a CIMT.|
|Sexual activity with a child||Yes|
|Taking a motor vehicle without consent||Yes|
|Theft by employee||Yes|
|Theft from dwelling||Yes|
|Theft from non-dwelling||Yes|
|Threatening behaviour||If there was no intent for the behaviour to be threatening/abusive then this is NOT a CIMT.|
|Threats to kill||Yes|
|Travelling on a railway without paying a fare||If 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.|
|Trespass||Simple trespass ins NOT a CIMT.|
|Supply of a controlled drug||Yes|
|Supply of class A, B or C drug||Yes|
|Using threatening, abusive, insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear||Yes|
|Wasting police time||The offence, if it was not conducted with inherently vile motives, is NOT a CIMT.|
* 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.
Below you will find links to other useful information relating to travelling to the USA.
- For practical information – More information can be found on our travelling to the US section
- To discuss this issue with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
- Questions – If you have any questions about this you can contact our helpline.