I was watching an episode of Mama’s Family and Mama said “The man was run out of town on a morals charge.” What the heck is or was a morals charge. Was it an actual legal thing or more like a lynching type or mob justice type of thing?
It varied, to some extent. It referred to a group of crimes whose commission was supposed to suggest moral turpitude. The term still comes up in licensing statutes and some kinds of contracts. Here is a modern statutory definition:
I would imagine it is any of a group of offenses which have a public morals element. It could have been public indecency, lewdness, prostitution, something pornography related, drugs, corrupting a minor, sexual assault, maybe gambling, or something like that.
Edit: Or what Gfactor said.