Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 20.14 e. Gross Negligence

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The BIA appears to distinguish between mere negligence and gross (or criminal) negligence, even though the BIA finds that neither intent is sufficient for an offense to involve moral turpitude.  The BIA adopted the following definition of criminal negligence:


Criminal negligence exists when the perpetrator fails to be aware of a substantial risk that a wrongful act may occur and his failure to be aware of such substantial risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable man would exercise in the same situation.[84]


The key element in this definition is that (as with negligence) the actor was unaware of the risk.  As long as this lack of awareness is present, an offense involving negligence, even criminal or gross negligence, will not be found to involve moral turpitude.[85]

[84] Matter of Perez-Contreras, 20 I. & N. Dec. 615 (BIA 1992), citing Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9A.08.010(1)(d) (West 1992).

[85] Matter of Perez-Contreras, 20 I. & N. Dec. 615 (BIA 1992) (third degree assault); Matter of Sweetser, 22 I. & N. Dec. 709 (BIA 1999) (child abuse); Matter of B, 2 I. & N. Dec. 867 (BIA 1947) (Canadian conviction for willfully damaging property not shown to involve moral turpitude, where term “willfully,” is defined so broadly as to cover what courts in the United States would regard as gross or wanton negligence)




Humanitarian parole is granted in cases of medical emergencies and the like. These are rarely granted, are generally good for up to a year, and are examined case-by-case by the Secretary of Homeland Security.