Moral Turpitude Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Moral Turpitude, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Moral Turpitude?

(n) Moral Turpitude is the gross disregarding of moral standards expected of a human being while doing some activity or crime. Eg. Raping in front of the parents.

History and Meaning of Moral Turpitude

Moral Turpitude is a legal term that has been in use since the 19th century. It refers to conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty, and good morals. Moral turpitude is not defined by statute, but it is generally understood to include acts of fraud, theft, embezzlement, bribery, perjury, and other crimes that involve dishonesty or deceit.

The idea of moral turpitude is rooted in the belief that some crimes are so morally reprehensible that they reflect on the character of the person who committed them. In legal terms, a crime involving moral turpitude is considered an aggravated offense that carries more severe penalties and consequences than a similar crime that does not involve moral turpitude.

Examples of Moral Turpitude

  1. A lawyer who embezzles money from a client's trust account commits a crime that involves moral turpitude.
  2. A government official who accepts bribes in exchange for awarding contracts engages in conduct that involves moral turpitude.
  3. A doctor who commits insurance fraud by submitting false claims commits an act that involves moral turpitude.
  4. A person who lies under oath in court commits perjury, which is an act of moral turpitude.

Legal Terms Similar to Moral Turpitude

  1. Crimes of Dishonesty - A category of crimes that includes theft, fraud, deception, and other criminal acts that involve some form of dishonesty or deceit.
  2. Aggravating Circumstances - Factors that increase the severity of a crime or the punishment imposed on a defendant. Moral turpitude is often considered an aggravating circumstance.
  3. Felony - A serious criminal offense that is punishable by imprisonment for more than one year. Many crimes involving moral turpitude are felonies.