You can be prosecuted for what you do, but can you also be prosecuted for what you don't do? Assume you are a witness to a crime but do not report it to the authorities. Will fear of becoming involved or a reluctance to get the involved result in criminal charges? If you find yourself in this situation, you should contact a criminal lawyer in West Palm Beach right away.
Can I Be Held Legally Liable for Knowing Someone Who Does Something Illegal?
Moral and Legal Obligation
Many people are unaware of their legal obligations when it comes to reporting criminal activity. Some people are hesitant to get engaged for fear of becoming a victim. Others may believe they have a moral obligation to act as Good Samaritans and bring offenders to justice. There is, however, a significant distinction between a sense of ethical responsibility and a legal obligation to act.
Let's look at some examples of when you could be held liable for knowing of a crime...
Mandatory Reporting Laws
Mandatory reporting laws exist in several states, forcing certain people to report crimes against children. Parents, educators, medical professionals, therapists, clergy, social workers, and others are among the mandated reporters of the state. However, in other areas, anyone who suspects child abuse is required to report it.
Aiding and Abetting
If you aided or abetted (commonly known as an accessory after the fact) in the commission of a crime but did not conduct the crime yourself, you can be charged with it. Prosecutors can prosecute you with aiding and abetting if you are aware of the perpetrator's illegal plot, intentionally encourage and facilitate that plan, and aid, promote, or initiate the commission of the crime.
Failure to Report a Criminal Offense
Failure to report a crime, also known as misprision of a felony, is a crime committed when someone is aware that a felony has been committed but fails to disclose it to the authorities. The crime stemmed from English common law, which required citizens to report crimes or face criminal charges. However, there must be proof they there was an evil motive. Ignoring the crime will not result in prosecution.
Speak With a Criminal Defense Lawyer in West Palm Beach
If you have been charged with failing to report an information about a crime or becoming an accessory to a crime, you should seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
With over 33 years of experience, Attorney David W. Olson is here to protect your rights, freedom, and everything else that is in jeopardy due to your prosecution. To schedule a free case evaluation, contact The Law Offices of David W. Olson at (561) 833-8866.