The Fourth Circuit has determined that a Maryland conviction for sexual solicitation of a minor is not categorically a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT). The court noted that the Board of Immigration Appeals' (BIA) decision in Matter of Silva Trevino (in effect at the time of the petitioner's conviction) deemed a sexual offense against a minor to be a CIMT only if the statute required the defendant to know (or should know) the victim's age. The Maryland statute at issue, however, had no such knowledge requirement. In the instant case, the BIA issued a published decision, reversing its previous precedent, and finding that a sex offense involving a minor could be a CIMT even absent a requirement that the defendant know or should know the victim's age, even if the conviction involved particularly young victims or a sufficient age difference between the victim and the defendant. The BIA deemed the petitioner's conviction to be a CIMT under this new definition.
While the Fourth Circuit recognized that the BIA has the authority to change its precedent, it emphasized that the BIA must provide a reasoned explanation for doing so. In the instant case, the BIA failed to explain its sudden departure in precedent. "Here, we are without a reasoned explanation from the Board for its change in position. And without one, we cannot know whether and how the Board has accounted for the prospect that its prior policy may have engendered serious reliance interests in aliens who pled guilty to certain sexual offenses under the Silva-Trevino regime. Because the Board’s path from the Silva-Trevino cases to Jimenez-Cedillo’s cannot reasonably be discerned, its decision is arbitrary and capricious and must be set aside."
The Fourth Circuit remanded to allow the BIA to explain its departure in precedent, and also to determine if any new definition of a CIMT could be retroactively applied to Jimenez-Cedlllo.
The full text of Jimenez-Cedillo v. Sessions can be found here: