What are crimes of moral turpitude?

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2020 | Professional License Issues |

As a physician, nurse, pharmacist, architect, engineer or other professional, your professional license serves as the way by which you can practice in your chosen field. It is therefore imperative that you maintain that license. Without it, you cannot earn a living. 

As you already know, your licensing board can suspend or revoke your license for a number of reasons. Many have to do with your receiving a criminal conviction, generally for a felony. ThoughtCo.com warns, however, that you could lose your license if convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes if they represent crimes of moral turpitude. 

Lack of definition 

Unfortunately, no statute or court has ever defined what constitutes a crime of moral turpitude. In general, these types of crime tend to “insult public consciousness,” whatever that may mean. This lack of precise definition pretty much gives your licensing board carte blanche to decide for itself which crimes it will place in this category. 

Examples of crimes of moral turpitude 

Back in 1891, Congress chose to add a new term, “moral turpitude,” to the nation’s immigration laws without precisely defining what it meant. The Immigration Act of 1917 subsequently added conviction of any crime within this category as justification to deport immigrants. Other than for immigration purposes, “moral turpitude” seldom arises today except as a reason to suspend or revoke someone’s professional license. 

If you receive a conviction for any of the following crimes, be they felonies or misdemeanors, your licensing board may seek to take away your license: 

  • Fraud, theft, robbery, larceny, bribery or any other financial crime 
  • Kidnapping, prostitution, child abuse or abandonment, blackmail, harboring a fugitive or any other crime involving a specific person 
  • Arson, smuggling or any other serious property crime 
  • Perjury or any other crime involving personal dishonesty on your part 

Obviously, your best interests dictate that you vigorously defend against any license suspension or revocation proceeding, especially one involving moral turpitude.