Crimes Against Public Order and Morals Research Paper

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Moral Turpitude

The question of ethics and morality, what is the right thing to do vs. The wrong thing in a given situation, can be an extremely difficult one to answer. There are occasions where right and wrong are clear, black and white distinctions. In such scenarios, the right thing to do is easy discernible, though it may not be the easiest things to do. However, this is the rarest of occasions. Far more often than not trying to determine what is the right and wrong choice in a given situation is extremely difficult, if not wholly impossible. Usually the world is not divided into simple terms like good and bad, right or wrong, black or white. Sometimes in life a person will be encountered with the opportunity to make a choice. In most scenarios, it is the decision of the public majority that decides which action is right and which is wrong. Within the world of law, morality plays a major part because the legislation that is passed in a society tends to be based upon the accepted moral code. The community as a whole decides what is good or bad in law, in behavior, and in public manners which sometimes comes into conflict with individual autonomy and decision-making. This is a difficult aspect of the question of morality and legislation because poor behavior can negatively impact the other members of the population but the work that goes into preventing moral turpitude takes away the matter of personal choice which is particularly troublesome in a constitutional democracy wherein all citizens are promised liberty.

Moral turpitude is defined as conduct on the behalf of people that is considered contrary to the community's standards of justice, honesty, or good moral conduct. Crimes which are considered to contain moral turpitude are broken into three categories: crimes against property, crimes against a government, and crimes against a person or persons. The most widely accepted definition is as follows:

Moral turpitude refers generally to conduct which is inherently base, vile, or depraved, and contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general. Moral turpitude has been defined as an act which per se morally reprehensible and intrinsically wrong, or malum in se, so it is the nature of the act itself and not the statutory prohibition of it which renders a crime one of moral turpitude (Crime 2013).

Therefore, anyone who chooses to commit actions which are against the legal or moral codes is guilty of moral turpitude.

Most often in the present time period, issues of moral turpitude appear in immigration laws. Crimes involving moral turpitude, also known as CIMTs, are used to determine whether or not an individual will be eligible for a visa to enter the United States (Crime 2013). This includes work visas or student visas and CIMTs are also taken into account in applications for permanent legal immigration. Additionally, those who commit such an action while in the United States may have their visas or citizenship status revoked by those in positions of authority.

Moral turpitude issues can appear in other section of the legal code as well, but they are considered by many to be anachronistic leftovers from a bygone era which should by rights be taken off of the books. In the present CIMTs are mainly used in criminal proceedings when a person is on the witness stand. If that witness has committed a crime in the past which deals with moral turpitude, then it is unlikely that their statements will have the same validity as someone who has not been convicted of such. There are other implications for people who have been convicted of CIMTs, even minor ones. For example, if a judge is convicted of a CIMT, he or she will be removed from the bench (California).

Beyond the United States, the issue of moral turpitude is a far bigger deal. Being found guilty of crime which has moral turpitude as an extenuating factor will mean far harsher punishment for the convicted person than a normal guilty verdict would give them. In India, for example a person found guilty of bank fraud in 2010 was sentenced to six months in prison and to pay a fine but if found to have performed an act of moral turpitude would also mean he was forced out of the union and being removed as general secretary of that union (Sangameswaran 2010).

Social settings, the constant interactions that happen between members of a population, have certain rules beyond those which are designated by laws. Manners are behaviors which people are supposed to exhibit in interpersonal interactions (Vanderbilt 1968,-page 110). Those who possess good manners, such as covering the mouth while coughing or using appropriate language at the table show respect to those around you and also show to others that you are aware of the code of proper conduct adopted by the society. Refusing to do this by say belching loudly without excusing yourself or picking your nose are exhibitions of so-called bad manners, actions which are not condoned by the society and because of their lack of majority approval have been designated as "bad" and inappropriate. Those who choose to behave this way are in violation of the code of conduct and are therefore choosing to be considered bad. An article from England's The Independent (2007) explained the idea of bad manners in the modern period thusly:

People in public spaces are behaving more aggressively. Rules are being broken all the time, but this does not mean they are disappearing; it just means they are splitting into different rules, more rules. Manners are metastatising. We understand them less and less. The nuances are becoming finer and finer. Football referees these days must be aware that their job goes beyond enforcing the rules; a good referee must punish some infringements, but turn a blind eye to others. If he did not do this, every game would come to a standstill.

In the past, the consequences of bad manners were far worse than they are today. Now the worst that can happen is that a person is not invited into higher level social occasions and is barred from being a part of the elite members atop the highest level of the social strata. In the past there was a greater amount of priority put upon the cultivation and display of manners and logically more severe consequences for those who did not show good manners.

Society has a history and tradition of telling its people what is right and what is wrong. In America, there are laws that make things legal or illegal. In addition to this, there are social regulations which determine what, though not illegal, is immoral and thus equally inappropriate behavior. Besides these two factors, there are the peer pressures of our individual dialogue groups which have influence on society as well. For example, religious groups determine what is appropriate for their followers. So, in deciding what is ethically right for the self, a son must be aware of what their society believes to be right and wrong and whether or not their personal set of ethics aligns with the societal norms. In the past, there have been incidences when the norm violated what a group would consider morality and ethics and they incited change. The Civil Rights Movement and the Holocaust both come to mind. In both of these situations, the law of the land was in violation with what an outsider group felt to be ethically right. Yet, the majority is the rule and thus the right was on the opposing side. Historically, the actions of those majority groups was exposed to a larger world majority and thus deemed wrong. However, had the world opinion sided with…[continue]

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