Virginia Moral Turpitude

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Latest post 06-09-2011 8:07 PM by Ford. 8 replies.
  • 06-09-2011 1:45 PM

    Virginia Moral Turpitude

    Greetings!

    I am wondering if anyone knows whether Impersonating Law Enforcement (Misdemeanor) is per se a crime of moral turpitude in Virginia.

    In other words, is it by default, without an examination of the particulars of the event, a crime of moral turpitude the same way Robbery is?

  • 06-09-2011 2:36 PM In reply to

    Re: Virginia Moral Turpitude

    brave_konami:
    I am wondering if anyone knows whether Impersonating Law Enforcement (Misdemeanor) is per se a crime of moral turpitude in Virginia.

    That depends on what definition of moral turpitude is applied. Are you concerned about the possible immigration consequences or something else?

  • 06-09-2011 2:59 PM In reply to

    Re: Virginia Moral Turpitude

    Thanks very much for responding.

    This is for professional licensing purposes, specifically, the Virginia bar.

    I don't want to saddle you all with specifics, but here is an abridged explanation:

    I am a full time law enforcement officer from in DC ( I have been for 18 years). About seven years ago I was travelling back to DC from a firing range in VA, and was driving my assigned unmarked cruiser (authorized by my agency). I was passed by a reckless motorist (20+ over) and I flashed my R/B lights at him to slow him down, out of habit. No stop occurred. Said motorist was an off duty local deputy who called marked units to stop me and issued me a summons for Impersonating Law Enforcement.

    As I did use my lights out of my jurisdiction, and since the VA statute on impersonating could get a ham sandwich convicted, I was found guilty. No jail, $275 fine.

    Now, I retire in two years and I am interested in studying law and moving to southern VA and possibly practicing. But this is no dice if its a per se moral turpitude crime. I called the bar and they said they can't make a determination until I have applied and they have investigated. Unfortunately, by that point I would have wasted time and money obtaining a useless law degree.

    And yes, I know it seems like I'm leaving something out of my story, but that's literally how it happened. That's why my agency didn't terminate me. They agreed it was about as de minimus as you can get.

    Thanks for your feedback.

  • 06-09-2011 3:08 PM In reply to

    Re: Virginia Moral Turpitude

    Unfortunately you have your answer. The ONLY opinion that matters is that of the bar and they will not issue it in a vaccuum. Even if you got someone to say today that it was not a problem it would not bind the bar to that assessment when the issue actually arises.

     

  • 06-09-2011 3:10 PM In reply to

    Re: Virginia Moral Turpitude

    Thanks very much for your feedback. I suppose I was hoping someone would have experienced a similar situation (not necessarily the same charges, but some other de minimus event).

    Oh well. I guess I need to do some soul searching and figure out if i want to risk a couple of years and a lot of money.

  • 06-09-2011 4:28 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Virginia Moral Turpitude

    Apparently you can practice with a Federal agency if you pass the Bar in any liberal state.

    Graduating from law school with a JD might put you near top of public school salary  scale --that is if they are hiring teachers at all. Schools like that  Dr title.  As an aside, many schools near me have quite liberal tuition remission policies --and administrators get same .  And while costs of education for a new career are not tax deductible--costs to maintain or improve a career are deductible --and obvioulsy tuition remission is best of all.

    And costs to relocate for a job are generally tax deductible  (any job will do) but double check the specifics

     



  • 06-09-2011 5:33 PM In reply to

    Re: Virginia Moral Turpitude

    There are attorneys who specialize in legal ethics.  Most big law firms have one or more of these attorneys on staff.  In addition to their own practice areas (which could be anything), these attorneys help keep their colleagues within their law firms "in line" (so to speak) when necessary, do mandatory ethics training for their peers (required by the Bar to keep their legal licenses) and advise the firm on legal malpractice issues.

    I'd suggest you contact one or two of the biggest law firms in your area and ask to speak to an attorney who is their in-house legal ethics expert.  He or she can likely give you a very informed opinion on what position the Bar will take on this.  Good luck.

  • 06-09-2011 7:31 PM In reply to

    Re: Virginia Moral Turpitude

    brave_konami:
    And yes, I know it seems like I'm leaving something out of my story, but that's literally how it happened. That's why my agency didn't terminate me. They agreed it was about as de minimus as you can get.

    I can't say for sure how any particular state's attorney licensing authority would take it. But my take is that most would see it just as your agency did: not a very big deal, particularly given the facts you describe. It would not be something I would describe as a case of "moral turpitude" and the fact that the bar didn't tell you that it was automatically something that would doom your application tells me it would not reject it out of hand based simply on the conviction. It would want to look instead at the details underlying it. As it took place well before you even enter law school, I rather think that at least most states would not deny you a license just based on this. I know lawyers who are licensed in my state that had committed in their pre-law school lives crimes more serious than that.

  • 06-09-2011 8:07 PM In reply to

    Re: Virginia Moral Turpitude

    If there's a rule that refers to it, there should be definitions somewhere, or bar rulings that help define it.

    I found a general definition in an ethics opinion:  "[A]n act of baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and social duties which man owes to his fellow men or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man."

    Shooting from the hip and not giving you legal advice, I don't see this as a crime of moral turpitude based on the charge, and the specific facts you've recited make it even less offensive.

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