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What is a crime of moral turpitude?

If you hold a professional license in Ohio, you likely know that your licensing board can suspend or even revoke it if you receive a conviction for, among other things, a crime of moral turpitude. It can otherwise discipline you as well. But just exactly what constitutes a crime of this nature?

Hondros College recently reported on an Ohio case wherein the court looked into a situation where the Ohio Nursing Board disciplined one of its members for moral turpitude. It disciplined the nurse when she received two convictions, a first-degree misdemeanor conviction for using a firearm while intoxicated, and a second-degree misdemeanor conviction for failing to secure a “dangerous ordinance,” i.e., a gun.

The Court’s decision

First the Court defined “crime of moral turpitude” as one involving one of the following three conducts:

  1. Conduct intended to defraud a specific person or society in general
  2. Conduct involving falsification or dishonesty
  3. Conduct involving egregious sexual misconduct

When the Court reviewed the nurse’s behavior that led to her convictions, it discovered that she had fired a gun at the ground in response to her husband’s physical abuse. It consequently held that these mitigating circumstances failed to show conduct so vile or depraved on her part as to violate accepted community moral standards. It also overruled the Nursing Board’s disciplinary decision.

Real estate situation

Like the Nursing Board, the Real Estate Board also does not precisely define a crime of moral turpitude. It does, however, require its members to notify it within 15 days of receiving a conviction for such a crime. If you are a real estate broker or agent and notify the Board within the appropriate time frame, the Superintendent likely will conduct an investigation into your specific conduct. In the meantime, you can continue to practice your profession.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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