What Are Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude?

March 19, 2020

In some cases, a criminal conviction can have consequences beyond fines, imprisonment, or other criminal penalties. Civil penalties may also apply. An individual injured during the commission of a crime might obtain a monetary judgment against the criminal in civil court.

However, some criminal convictions involving crimes of moral turpitude can result in the loss of a professional license. Crimes involving moral turpitude can also impact a person’s immigration status or the ability to obtain certain jobs. Our criminal defense attorneys in Columbus assist clients in developing defense strategies to fight allegations of moral turpitude crimes aggressively.

What is Moral Turpitude?

A crime of moral turpitude generally involves offenses that insult the public consciousness. It is an act that deeply violates the acceptable norms and standards of a community. In other words, it is a quality of immorality or dishonesty that insults public decency.

In a 2017 case, the court attempted to define what constitutes a crime of moral turpitude. The court ruled in Rogers v. Ohio Board of Nursing, Franklin C.P. No. 17 CVF 06-5549 (Oct. 31, 2017) that a crime of moral turpitude involves one of three types of conduct:

  • Egregious sexual misconduct
  • Defrauding a specific person or society
  • Dishonesty and falsification

A crime involving moral turpitude may be a misdemeanor or a felony. Also, two similar crimes may not both rise to the level of moral turpitude.

For example, driving under suspension may not be a crime involving moral turpitude. However, the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle may be if it involves dishonesty or fraud. Likewise, most crimes against a person involving moral turpitude, but negligent homicide may not because the intent to harm another person is not present.

However, most crimes against property, such as burglary, theft, and robbery, are crimes involving moral turpitude because they involve defrauding a person. Most crimes involving sexual conduct rise to the level of moral turpitude.

It is important to speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to review the specific facts in your case. There could be one or more defenses to an allegation of a crime involving moral turpitude. Fighting the charges is crucial to protect a professional license.

Professional Licenses and Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

Title 47 of the Ohio Revised Code governs licensed professionals in Ohio. The various code sections may contain specific laws related to revocation or denial of a professional license. Some professional licenses may be revoked for crimes that do not involve moral turpitude.

For example, a physician can lose his license for committing a crime involving moral turpitude. However, the State Medical Board may also revoke a physician’s license for a felony conviction. The State Medical Board may also revoke a physician’s license for a conviction of a misdemeanor committed during the course of practice.

Because the rules vary by profession, it is necessary to review the applicable statute to determine if a criminal conviction for other crimes result in losing a professional license. Some professions list offenses that result in mandatory license revocation. Other professions might rely solely on the definition of moral turpitude to determine if a criminal conviction results in the revocation of a license.

Immigrants and Crimes of Moral Turpitude

There are several grounds for judicial deportation. A conviction for a crime of moral turpitude is one ground for judicial deportation.

For the offense to trigger judicial deportation, the crime must have been committed within five years after the date the person entered the United States. Also, the sentence for the crime must be confinement for at least one year or longer.

A crime may not rise to the level of moral turpitude, but the crime might meet another ground for judicial deportation. For example, an aggravated felony and multiple criminal convictions are also grounds for judicial deportation.

Defending Allegations of Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Being charged with a crime is not a criminal conviction. Regardless of the severity of the crime, you have the legal right to defend yourself. You have the right to consult with an attorney and not answer questions without an attorney present.

The definition of moral turpitude is broad, which makes it easy to attack. Many factors are involved in determining if the crime committed falls within the boundaries of moral turpitude. In some cases, a crime may not rise to that level, or a defense attorney may be able to have the charges reduced for a plea deal.