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What Is Moral Turpitude?

There exists a law that provides for the type of behavior and decorum that is expected of every individual. In the event that a person is to have exhibited behavior or decorum contrary to what is morally expected of him in society, he or she is said to have a conduct of moral turpitude.


Moral turpitude is considered to be behavior or decorum that opposes public morals. Each society or community has its own standards of moral behavior, and violations of such standards may be considered criminal or offensive. Thus, they not only violate public standards, but also legal standards.


A person whose conduct is that of moral turpitude may have committed any of the following crimes: murder, rape, fraud, arson, theft, and counterfeiting. A person cannot necessarily be judged as guilty of a crime if he or she does not meet public moral standards. However, he or she may be punished for having committed the crime itself. Such punishment may mean imprisonment, fines, or community service.


Once a person has committed an offense of moral turpitude, such an offense goes on the record of the person. This may affect the person significantly. First, the person as a witness may have his or her credibility questioned and is subject to witness impeachment. Second, moral turpitude may be the basis for the suspension or revocation of licenses or certifications. Third, individuals seeking to immigrate to the US who have a history of moral turpitude are barred from immigration to the US.

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