moral turpitude n1 : an act or behavior that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community
2 : a quality of dishonesty or other immorality that is determined by a court to be present in the commission of a criminal offense [a crime involving moral turpitude ] compare malum in se NOTE: Whether a criminal offense involves moral turpitude is an important determination in deportation, disbarment, and other disciplinary hearings. Past crimes involving moral turpitude usually may also be introduced as evidence to impeach testimony. Theft, perjury, vice crimes, bigamy, and rape have generally been found to involve moral turpitude, while liquor law violations and disorderly conduct generally have not.
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.