Violently Resisting Arrest is a Crime of Moral Turpitude

By William Peacock, Esq. on February 15, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Manual Cano entered the United States in 1990 as a nonimmigrant. Nine years later, his status was updated to that of a lawful resident. A few years after that, he violently resisted a lawful arrest.

In 2011, due to that incident and a 2010 act that also involved moral turpitude, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notified him that he was set for deportation under § 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii) as an alien convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude. He contests the classification of his resisting arrest conviction as a crime involving moral turpitude.

Moral turpitude is not defined by statute, but prior case law defines it as "[a]n act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellow men, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man."

The Florida law that Cano was convicted under requires that the defendant "(1) knowingly (2) resisted, obstructed, or opposed a law enforcement officer (3) who was in the lawful execution of any legal duty (4) by offering or doing violence to his person."

Cano's argument is that the intent element of the crime only applies to the act of resisting, rather than the violent element. His argument might be restated as: intending to get away is not a violation of social duties, while intending to physically harm a cop is.

His argument is foreclosed by case law, however, which clearly establishes that the crime of violently resisting arrest is a general intent crime.

Furthermore, the crime itself is defined by the violent act. The court points out that the similar offense of battery on a police officer merely requires unwanted touching. This requires the use of or threat of actual violence.

The court goes on to state that because the statute requires intentional violence against an officer, it exhibits a deliberate disregard for the law, which is a "violation of the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed to society."

In plain English: he attacked a public servant who was upholding laws that are meant to protect us. That's enough for moral turpitude.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard