What is a crimes of moral turpitude in California?

Welfare and Institutions Code 781

 

A crime of moral turpitude is a legal term that currently has no absolute definition, even though it is used in many statutes. Even the California Supreme Court has acknowledged that the term moral turpitude "is an elusive concept incapable of precise general definition." However, there is general agreement that a crime of moral turpitude is one that involves intent, meaning you have taken deliberate action with the knowledge that the action poses a serious risk of harm to others. Thus, as a general rule if you purposefully did something to harm another individual it will be considered a crime of moral turpitude. This includes crimes of dishonesty and/or fraud. This also undoubtedly includes heinous acts such as rape, murder and drug dealing.

Here is a partial list of crimes that have generally been categorized as crimes of moral turpitude. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list:

Crimes against property:

  • 1Arson
  • 2Blackmail
  • 3Burglary
  • 4Embezzlement
  • 5Extortion
  • 6Forgery
  • 7Fraud
  • 8Larceny (grand or petty)
  • 9Malicious destruction of property
  • 10Receiving stolen goods
  • 11Robbery
  • 12Theft
  • 13Transporting stolen property

 

Crimes against government:

  • 1Bribery
  • 2Counterfeiting
  • 3Mail fraud
  • 4Perjury
  • 5Harboring a fugitive from justice
  • 6Tax evasion (willful)

 

Crimes committed against others:

  • 1Abandonment of a minor child (if willful and resulting in the destitution of the child)
  • 2Assault with intent to kill, commit rape, commit robbery or commit serious bodily harm
  • 3Assault with a dangerous or deadly weapon
  • 4Bigamy
  • 5Paternity fraud
  • 6Contributing to the delinquency of a minor
  • 7Gross indecency
  • 8Incest (if the result of an improper sexual relationship)
  • 9Kidnapping
  • 10Lewdness
  • 11Manslaughter
  • 12Murder
  • 13Prostitution
  • 14Rape (including "Statutory rape" by virtue of the victim's age)

 

Although the above list is not exhaustive, it does give you the general idea of what will be considered by the court to be a crime of moral turpitude. The concept of moral turpitude is especially important in juvenile record sealing cases under California Welfare and Institutions Code 781, which states that your juvenile record is not eligible to be sealed if you have committed a crime of moral turpitude as an adult.

If you have a juvenile record you would like to get sealed we may be able to assist you.

View Juvenile Record Sealing Page

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David Huffman, Esq.
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