Crimes of Moral Turpitude

What Are Crimes of Moral Turpitude in Texas?

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:

  1. Anything done knowingly contrary to justice, honesty, principle, or good morals.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

CrimeAuthorityCrime of Moral Turpitude?
Felony drug possessionIn the Matter of Lock, 54 S.W.3d 305 (Tex. 2001)No
Delivery of marijuanaHernandez v. State, 976 S.W.2d 753 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 19980, pet.
ref'd, 981 S.W.2d 652 (Tex. Crim. App
MisprisionDuncan 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 SBITurton 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
of marijuana
Bell v. State, 620 S.W.2d 116 (Tex. Crim. App. 1981)No
Juvenile delinquencyRivas v. State 501 S.W.2d 918 (Tex Crim. App. 1973)No
Unlawfully carrying a weaponTrippell v. State, 535 S.W.2d 178 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976)No
GamblingNeill v. State, 258 S.W.2d. 328 (Tex. Crim. App. 1953No
Misdemeanor DWIShipman v. State, 604 S.W.2d 182 (Tex. Crim. App. 1980); Janecka v. State, 937
S.W.2d 456 (Tex. Crim. App. 1996).
Public IntoxicationOchoa v. State, 481 S.W.2d 847 (Tex. Crim. App. 1972).No
Reckless conductPatterson V. State, 783 S.W.2d 268 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1989,pet.
AssaultValdez v. State, 450 S.W.2d 624 (Tex. Crim. App. 1970).No
Disrupting the peaceGarza v. State, 532 S.W.2d 624 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976).No
Criminal TrespassHutson v. State, 843 S.W.2d 106 (Tex. App.-Texarkana 1992, no pet.).No
Criminal mischiefGonzalex v. State, 648 S.W.2d 740 (Tex. App.-Beaumont 1983, no pet.).No
Soliciting bonding businessOp. 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 childIn 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 fraudState Bar v. Heard, 603 S.W.2d 829 (Tex. 1980).Yes
Tax evasionIn 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).
ProstitutionHolgin 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 childIn the Matter of Thacker, 881 S.W.2d 307 (Tex.1994).Yes
Indecent exposurePolk v. State, 865 S.W.2d 627 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 1993, pet.ref'd).Yes
Failure to stop & render aidTate v. State Bar of Texas, 920 S.W.2d 727 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1996
writ denied).
TheftMilligan v. State, 554 S.W.2d 192 (Tex. Crim. App. 1977).Yes
Agg assault by a man on a womanJackson 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 femaleTrippell v. State, 535 S.W.2d 178 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976).Yes
Murder and Indecent exposurePolk v. State, 865 S.W.2d 627 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 1993, pet.ref'd).Yes
SwindlingSherman v. State, 62 S.W.2d 146 (Tex. Crim. App. 1993).Yes
Bank fraudSearcy v. State Bar of Texas, 604 S/W/2d 256 (Tex. 1980).Yes
Theft, shopliftingMilligan v. State, 554 S.W.2d 192 (Tex. Crim. App. 1977).Yes
BigamyRuhe v. State Bar, No. 05-93-01562-CV, 1994 Tex. App. LEXIS 3948 (App.—Dallas Nov. 17, 1994)Yes
Public LewdnessGreen 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 StatesFreedson v. State, 600 S.W.2d 349 (Tex. Civ. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1980)Yes
Conspiracy to Bribe a Public OfficialState v. Nelson, 551 S.W.2d 433 (Tex. Civ. App.—San Antonio 1977)Yes
Promoting ProstitutionTaylor v. State, 470 S.W.2d 663 (Tex. Crim. App. 1971).Yes
Sale of NarcoticsSpeer v. State, 109 S.W.2d 1150 (Tex. Civ. App.—Galvestion 1937).Yes
Violation of a Protective Order Shielding a WomanLudwig v. State, 969 S.W.2d 22 (Tex. Civ. App.— Fort Worth 1998).Yes
Criminally Negligent HomicideArnold v. State, 36 S.W.3d 542 (Tex. App.—Tyler 2000)No
Issuance of Bad Checks Without Intent to DefraudDallas Cty. Bail Bond Bd. v. Mason, 773 S.W.2d 586 (Tex. App.—Dallas 1989)No
Interference with an Emergency CallUrtado v. State, 333 S.W.3d 418 (Tex. App.—Austin 2011).No
Use of Loud and Profane Language in a Public PlaceTaylor v. State, 199 S.W. 289 (1917).No
Abusive Language to a Police OfficerHartford Acc. & Indem. Co. v. Williams, 516 S.W.2d 425 (Tex. Civ. App.—Amarillo 1974).No
Driving While License SuspendedStephens v. State, 417 S.W.2d 286 (Tex. Crim. App. 1967).No
Evading ArrestEx 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.

About the Author

Benson Varghese

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Benson Varghese is the Managing Partner of Varghese Summersett PLLC. He is a state and federal practitioner who has handled thousands criminal cases and taken over 100 cases to trial by jury. Benson is frequently called upon to handle cases that require a high degree of knowledge in technology, scientific evidence, forensic evidence, as well as serious intoxication cases. The lawyers at Varghese Summersett PLLC exclusively handle criminal defense matters.