Pedro Jimenez-Cedillo was convicted of sexual solicitation of a minor in violation of section 3-324 of the Maryland Criminal Law.  Jimenez-Ceillo argued that his state statutes of conviction reach consensual sexual conduct and do not require that a violator possess any culpable mental state regarding the age of the victim. The Department of Homeland Security argued that although the Maryland law lacks these elements, the offense is a categorical crime involving moral turpitude because all violations of the statutes necessarily involve either a very young victim—that is, a child under 14 years of age—or a substantial age difference between an adult perpetrator and a minor victim under the age of 16.  "While we held in Matter of Silva-Trevino that moral turpitude was inherent in a sexual offense against a minor if an alien knew or should have known that the victim was a minor, our decision did not foreclose the possibility that moral turpitude will inhere in some crimes, even if the relevant statute lacks an element that requires the perpetrator to have some culpable mental state regarding the victim’s age."  "We therefore clarify our decision in Matter of Silva-Trevino and now hold that a sexual offense in violation of a statute enacted to protect children is a crime involving moral turpitude where the victim is particularly young—that is, under 14 years of age—or is under 16 and the age differential between the perpetrator and victim is significant, or both, even though the statute requires no culpable mental state as to the age of the child." "[S]ection 3-307(a)(3) of the Maryland Criminal Law, the victim is much younger (no older than 13) and the perpetrator must be at least 4 years older. While sections 3-307(a)(4) and (5) reach relatively older victims (under 16 years of age), these provisions also require that the perpetrator be an adult who is significantly older than the victim—specifically, at least 6 years older. We therefore conclude that all of the conduct proscribed by section 3-307 categorically fits within the generic definition of a crime involving moral turpitude.  Finally, we note that a defendant may be convicted under section 3-324(b) for knowingly soliciting a law enforcement officer who is posing as a minor to engage in sexual activity. We understand such an act to be equivalent to an attempt to engage an actual minor in unlawful sexual activity."

The full text of Matter of Jimenez-Cedillo can be found here: