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Moral Turpitude: Doctor, Nurse, EMS

| Feb 25, 2015 | Criminal Defense |

I represent EMTs, nurses and doctors before the State Medical Board of Ohio.  Medical professionals often ask me for advice about a certain question on their license renewal application.  In short, the question is, “have you been convicted of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude?”

Obviously, not all misdemeanors are crimes of moral turpitude. If they were, there would be no need for the limitation in the phrase “a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude.” (OAC 4765-10-03(B)(2)(c)). Thus, although any misdemeanor offense, by definition, involves the breach of a social duty that man owes to his fellow man, or to society in general, the issue is whether the breach of duty involves baseness, vileness, or depravity. This is a different question from whether the conduct was wrong.

There are situations where the State Medical Board is permitted to examine the underlying facts of a criminal case to determine whether the convictions involved moral turpitude. In re Jacoby (1943), 74 Ohio App. 147, 157, 29 O.O. 305, 57 N.E.2d 932; See also, Holycross v. State Bd. of Emergency Med. Servs., 163 Ohio App.3d 213, 2005-Ohio-4598, 837 N.E.2d 423 (examining the underlying facts of an EMT’s criminal case to determine whether his convictions for telephone harassment, attempted telecommunications harassment, and criminal trespass were offenses that involved moral turpitude).

The OAC defines “moral turpitude” as “the act of baseness, vileness, or the depravity in private and social duties which one owes to society, contrary to accepted and customary rule of right and duty between human beings.” Ohio Adm. Code 4765:1-01(R). “Moral turpitude” also means an “ ‘[a]ct or behavior that gravely violates moral sentiment or accepted standards of [the] community and is a morally culpable quality held to be present in some criminal offenses as distinguished from others.’ ” Davidson, D.P.M. v. State Med. Bd. of Ohio (May 7, 1998), 10th Dist. No. 97APE08-1036, 1998 WL 226436, quoting Black’s Law Dictionary (6 Ed.1991) 698.

If you are a medical professional who has suffered a criminal or traffic conviction you should seek out an attorney for insight and guidance in answering your license renewal application.