Crimes of Moral Turpitude
Any criminal charge on your record can become an obstacle to employment, housing, and immigration. There is a certain category of crimes referred to as “crimes of moral turpitude” which create an additional hardship as you attempt to move forward.
Crimes involving moral turpitude are those that involve dishonesty, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or deliberate violence. Duncan v. Board of Disciplinary Appeals, 898 S.W.2d 759, 761 (Tex.1995).
Moral turpitude has also been defined as the following:
- Anything done knowingly contrary to justice, honesty, principle, or good morals.
- An act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties that a man owes to his fellow men or to society in general.
- Something immoral in itself, regardless of whether it is punishable by law. The performance of the act itself, and not its prohibition by statute, fixes the moral turpitude.
- Immoral conduct is willful, flagrant, or shameless conduct that shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the community.
See Turton v. State Bar, 775 S.W.2d 712, 716 (Tex.App.-San Antonio 1989, writ denied) (citing Muniz v. State, 575 S.W.2d 408, 411 (Tex.Civ.App.-Corpus Christi 1978, writ ref’d n.r.e.)).
Essentially, a conviction for this type of offense communicates to anyone reviewing your criminal history that your character raises a red flag, and that you may be dangerous, and at the very least, you are untrustworthy.
Examples of property crimes that are Crimes of Moral Turpitude include the following: arson, blackmail, forgery, robbery, burglary, theft, illegal use of a credit card, issuing a worthless check, and possessing/transporting stolen property.
The following are examples of Crimes of Moral Turpitude against people: assault, sexual assault, child abuse or neglect, kidnapping, murder, and voluntary or reckless manslaughter. This table contains a list of criminal offenses that courts have addressed to determine if they were crimes of moral turpitude or not:
Crimes of Moral Turpitude in Texas
|Crime||Authority||Crime of Moral Turpitude?|
|Felony drug possession||In the Matter of Lock, 54 S.W.3d 305 (Tex. 2001)||No|
|Delivery of marijuana||Hernandez v. State, 976 S.W.2d 753 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 19980, pet.|
ref'd, 981 S.W.2d 652 (Tex. Crim. App
|Misprision||Duncan v. Board of Disciplinary Appeals, 898 S.W.2d 759 (Tex. 1995) (crimes |
involving moral turpitude are those that involve dishonesty, fraud, deceit, misrep
resentation, deliberate violence, or that reflect adversely on a person's honesty or
|Agg assault with SBI||Turton v. State Bar of Texas, 775 S.W.2d 712 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 1989, writ|
den.) (not on its face a felony involving moralturpitude-look into the circum-
stances of the offense to determine
|Misdemeanor possession |
|Bell v. State, 620 S.W.2d 116 (Tex. Crim. App. 1981)||No|
|Juvenile delinquency||Rivas v. State 501 S.W.2d 918 (Tex Crim. App. 1973)||No|
|Unlawfully carrying a weapon||Trippell v. State, 535 S.W.2d 178 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976)||No|
|Gambling||Neill v. State, 258 S.W.2d. 328 (Tex. Crim. App. 1953||No|
|Misdemeanor DWI||Shipman v. State, 604 S.W.2d 182 (Tex. Crim. App. 1980); Janecka v. State, 937|
S.W.2d 456 (Tex. Crim. App. 1996).
|Public Intoxication||Ochoa v. State, 481 S.W.2d 847 (Tex. Crim. App. 1972).||No|
|Reckless conduct||Patterson V. State, 783 S.W.2d 268 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1989,pet.|
|Assault||Valdez v. State, 450 S.W.2d 624 (Tex. Crim. App. 1970).||No|
|Disrupting the peace||Garza v. State, 532 S.W.2d 624 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976).||No|
|Criminal Trespass||Hutson v. State, 843 S.W.2d 106 (Tex. App.-Texarkana 1992, no pet.).||No|
|Criminal mischief||Gonzalex v. State, 648 S.W.2d 740 (Tex. App.-Beaumont 1983, no pet.).||No|
|Soliciting bonding business||Op. Tex. Att'y Gen. GA-229 (2005) (violations of Tex. Occ. Code 1704.304 (soliciting bonding|
business in a olice station, jail, prison, detention facility, or other place of detainment)).
|Sexual assault of a child||In The Matter of GMP, 909 S.W.2d 198 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1995, no|
|Lying to a police officer|
(filing false report)
|Lape v. State, 893 S. W.2d 949 (Tex. App.-Houston 14th Dist.] 1994, pet. ref'd;|
Robertson v. State, 685 S.W.2d 488 (Tex. App-Fort Worth 1985, no pet.) ("no clear
cut criteria" for moral turpitude).
|Mail fraud||State Bar v. Heard, 603 S.W.2d 829 (Tex. 1980).||Yes|
|Tax evasion||In re Humphreys, 880 S.W.2d 402 (Tex. 1994) (whether a case involves moral turpitude |
is a question of law); In the Matter of Birdwell, 20 S.W.3d 685 (Tex. 2000).
|Prostitution||Holgin v. State, 480 S.W.2d 405 (Tex. Crim. App. 1972); Husting v. State, 790|
S.W.2d 121 (Tex. App-San Antonio 1990, no pet.).
|Purchase of a child||In the Matter of Thacker, 881 S.W.2d 307 (Tex.1994).||Yes|
|Indecent exposure||Polk v. State, 865 S.W.2d 627 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 1993, pet.ref'd).||Yes|
|Failure to stop & render aid||Tate v. State Bar of Texas, 920 S.W.2d 727 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1996|
|Theft||Milligan v. State, 554 S.W.2d 192 (Tex. Crim. App. 1977).||Yes|
|Agg assault by a man on a woman||Jackson v. State, 50 S.W.3d 579, 591 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2001, pet. ref'd); Ludwig|
v. State, 969 S.W.2d 22 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 1998, pet. ref'd); Hardeman v. State,
868 S.W.2d 404 (Tex. App.-Austin 1993), pet. dism'd, 891 S.W.2d 960 (Tex. Crim. App.
|Assault by a male on a female||Trippell v. State, 535 S.W.2d 178 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976).||Yes|
|Murder and Indecent exposure||Polk v. State, 865 S.W.2d 627 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 1993, pet.ref'd).||Yes|
|Swindling||Sherman v. State, 62 S.W.2d 146 (Tex. Crim. App. 1993).||Yes|
|Bank fraud||Searcy v. State Bar of Texas, 604 S/W/2d 256 (Tex. 1980).||Yes|
|Theft, shoplifting||Milligan v. State, 554 S.W.2d 192 (Tex. Crim. App. 1977).||Yes|
|Bigamy||Ruhe v. State Bar, No. 05-93-01562-CV, 1994 Tex. App. LEXIS 3948 (App.—Dallas Nov. 17, 1994)||Yes|
|Public Lewdness||Green v. Cty. Attorney of Anderson Cty., 592 S.W.2d 69 (Tex. Civ. App.—Tyler 1979); Escobedo v. State, 202 S.W.3d 844 (Tex. App.—Waco 2006).||Yes|
|Conspiracy to Commit Offense or Defraud the United States||Freedson v. State, 600 S.W.2d 349 (Tex. Civ. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1980)||Yes|
|Conspiracy to Bribe a Public Official||State v. Nelson, 551 S.W.2d 433 (Tex. Civ. App.—San Antonio 1977)||Yes|
|Promoting Prostitution||Taylor v. State, 470 S.W.2d 663 (Tex. Crim. App. 1971).||Yes|
|Sale of Narcotics||Speer v. State, 109 S.W.2d 1150 (Tex. Civ. App.—Galvestion 1937).||Yes|
|Violation of a Protective Order Shielding a Woman||Ludwig v. State, 969 S.W.2d 22 (Tex. Civ. App.— Fort Worth 1998).||Yes|
|Criminally Negligent Homicide||Arnold v. State, 36 S.W.3d 542 (Tex. App.—Tyler 2000)||No|
|Issuance of Bad Checks Without Intent to Defraud||Dallas Cty. Bail Bond Bd. v. Mason, 773 S.W.2d 586 (Tex. App.—Dallas 1989)||No|
|Interference with an Emergency Call||Urtado v. State, 333 S.W.3d 418 (Tex. App.—Austin 2011).||No|
|Use of Loud and Profane Language in a Public Place||Taylor v. State, 199 S.W. 289 (1917).||No|
|Abusive Language to a Police Officer||Hartford Acc. & Indem. Co. v. Williams, 516 S.W.2d 425 (Tex. Civ. App.—Amarillo 1974).||No|
|Driving While License Suspended||Stephens v. State, 417 S.W.2d 286 (Tex. Crim. App. 1967).||No|
|Evading Arrest||Ex parte Aguilar, No. 09-14-00128-CR, 2014 Tex. App. LEXIS 10809 (App.—Beaumont Sep. 24, 2014)||Remains unsettled if can be used for deportation purposes|
It is important to note that conspiracy, attempt, or acting as an accessory to any of the above-mentioned crimes also constitutes a crime of moral turpitude.
However, being arrested for a Crime of Moral Turpitude does not mean that all is lost. You may have options to keep a conviction off your record, but it is important to know what they are as soon as possible after a case has been filed against you. Contact an attorney who you trust and who is knowledgeable to discuss your options.
Also published on Medium.