|Legal Opinion: |
Text of Document: June 18, 1993
Recently you called MTAS with a question concerning issuance of a beer permit. It seems that a partnership has applied for a beer permit and that one of the partners has a felony conviction for burglary. The Municipal Code prohibits those who have been convicted of crimes of "moral turpitude" from holding beer permits. You wanted to know if this conviction amounted to crime of moral turpitude which would prevent this partner from being a permit holder. It does.
Deciding what is a crime involving moral turpitude must be made on a case by case determination. Generally, a crime involving moral turpitude involves a crime that reflects upon the moral fitness of a person, such as a crime involving dishonesty, murder, sale of drugs, and possibly, any crime involving intentional and serious bodily harm to others. Many of the cases involving determinations of whether crimes are ones of moral turpitude tell us what is not considered to be moral turpitude instead of what is. For instance, the case of Gibson v. Ferguson, 562 S.W.2d 188 (Tenn. 1976), involved the question of a person's fitness for a beer permit. The case held that the offense of "rolling high dice for a Coke," and the offense of failing to immediately release seventeen bluegill fish, were not crimes of moral turpitude. Indeed the Court pointed out that:
It is unfortunate that the legislature used the language, "crime involving moral turpitude," for it has no satisfactory definition.
I have come to look at it in the light of the late United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's statement on defining obscenity, I know it when I see it. With these facts I strongly believe that any court would find the conviction in question a crime of moral turpitude. I see no problem with the issuance of the permit to the other partner alone if the partner with the conviction drops out and does not receive any of the proceeds from sales allowed under the permit.
Please feel free to contact me if I may be of any further assistance in this or any other matter.
Very truly yours,
MUNICIPAL TECHNICAL ADVISORY SERVICE