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Marco Antonio Robles-Urrea v. Holder

The Ninth Circuit rejected the Board of Immigration Appeals' published opinion in this case, Matter of Robles-Urrea, 24 I&N Dec. 22 (BIA 2006), and held that misprision of a felony in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 4 is not categorically a crime involving moral turpitude. The Ninth Circuit found the Board's analysis was conclusory and flawed, so it did not defer to the Board's decision.

Misprision of a felony requires knowledge of the commission of a felony and concealment of that felony and not making it known to the authorities. The Board found this was a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT), but the Ninth held it failed to meaningfully address one of the key requirements for a CIMT: that the offense be inherently base, vile, or depraved.

The Ninth Circuit held the fact that misprision requires concealment does not satisfy the requirement of baseness, vileness, or depravity. This is the case because misprision does not require the specific intent to conceal or obstruct justice. It is enough to know of the crime and do something that conceals it--even if concealment of the crime is not intended.

Although the Ninth Circuit held that misprision does not categorically involve moral turpitude, it also held that it could involve it in some cases. Thus, the Ninth Circuit remanded for the Board to determine in the first instance whether Robles-Urrea's conviction necessarily rested on facts that involved moral turpitude.

The most interesting thing about the remand, though, is that by indicating that the Board would have to look only to the narrow set of documents that form the record of conviction, the Ninth implicitly rejected the third step of Matter of Silva-Trevino, which authorizes inquiry beyond the record of conviction. This is a surprisingly beneficial application of Aguila Montes de Oca.