The term “moral turpitude” sounds ominous. For anyone charged with a crime involving moral turpitude, the consequences could genuinely be frightening. For that reason, it is generally in a person’s best interest to consult with a criminal defense attorney immediately about potential defenses and strategies for fighting charges of crimes involving moral turpitude. 

What is Moral Turpitude?

The term moral turpitude refers to behavior that is considered deviant or wicked. The behavior would “shock’ reasonable individuals in the community. Behaviors that are unethical, immoral, or deviate from acceptable social standards can rise to the level of moral turpitude. 

Ohio Revised Code §4776. 10 provides a definition of a crime of moral turpitude. However, the definition is complicated and refers to other crimes within the criminal code. The Ohio courts attempted to offer a more precise definition of crimes of moral turpitude in the case of Rogers v. Ohio Board of Nursing

In the 2017 case, the court concluded that a crime of moral turpitude involves one of three types of conduct:

  • Fraud against a person or society
  • Egregious sexual misconduct
  • Falsification and dishonesty

Most sex crimes rise to the level of a crime of moral turpitude by the definition established the court. Many crimes that involve violence, such as domestic violence or assault, can be a crime of moral turpitude. 

Also, most crimes involving robbery, burglary, and theft are crimes of moral turpitude because the crimes involve fraud against a person. Likewise, white collar crimes that defraud a person or society could be considered crimes of moral turpitude. 

Crimes of moral turpitude include both felonies and misdemeanors. 

Crimes of Moral Turpitude and Professional Licenses

Being charged with a crime of moral turpitude can result in a variety of punishments, including prison sentences, fines, probation, and other penalties.

When a person who holds a professional license is charged with a crime of moral turpitude, they could lose their professional license if convicted of the crime.

Being convicted of a crime does not automatically result in the revocation or suspension of a professional license. The consequences for your professional license depend on numerous factors, including the:

  • Nature of the crime
  • Severity of the offense
  • Rules and laws governing your profession
  • Circumstances and facts involved in your case

The ethical guidelines, disciplinary procedures, and licensing standards that dictate how criminal convictions impact a person’s professional license vary by profession. However, many professions treat convictions of crimes of moral turpitude very seriously. 

Professionals that need to be concerned about their licenses if they face charges related to crimes of moral turpitude include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Medical or health care providers, including nurses and doctors
  • Attorneys 
  • Educators
  • Chiropractors
  • Accountants
  • Pharmacists
  • Veterinarians
  • Real Estate Brokers
  • Dentists
  • Social Workers

In addition to crimes of moral turpitude, professionals could also lose their license for other acts or crimes. 

What Should You Do if You are Charged with a Crime of Moral Turpitude?

Being charged with a crime of moral turpitude or another serious crime could put your professional license in jeopardy. For that reason, it is best to contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. You need to understand the charges against you, your legal rights, and the potential punishments for a conviction. 

You may feel the need to explain yourself to try to make the criminal charges go away. Talking to the police, prosecutor, or a licensing board without an attorney is never a good idea. You have the right to remain silent, and you should exercise that right.

Never give a statement or answer questions without consulting with a lawyer, including talking to union representatives or licensing boards. Anything you say to other parties could be used against you in court. Those parties could be called as witnesses at your criminal trial.

Instead, focus on what you can do to help your attorney. Write down as much as you remember about the details of the incident that led to the criminal charges. Avoid contact with all parties involved in the incident. Never contact the victim or ask someone to contact the victim on your behalf.

Stop using social media accounts. Make sure that privacy settings for all accounts are at the highest security setting. Make a list of your accounts for your lawyer to review. 

There could be several defenses to the criminal charges you face. The first step in fighting those charges is hiring a criminal defense lawyer who handles cases involving the crime you allegedly committed. Together, you can fight to clear your name and keep your professional license.