In almost all cases, if a person knows about a crime another person has committed, they are not legally required to report that crime. This is true even if the person knew about the crime before it happened, saw the crime, or learned about the crime after it was committed. However, there are two big exceptions to these rules.
Read on to learn what those exceptions are and then contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 if you are afraid you may be guilty of either exception. We are happy to provide a free legal consultation that can assure you know your rights and available options.
You Can Be Charged Under These Two exceptions
Some people have jobs that make them what’s known as mandatory reporters. This means they are required by law to report any instance of child abuse or child neglect in accordance with California’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA). If they do not do so, then they could face criminal charges. The second exception is a situation in which a party aids or abets the criminal in the crime.
More About CANRA and a Mandatory Reporter’s Responsibility Under It
If certain professionals know about or witness a crime of child abuse or child neglect and they do not report it, they can be charged. The law affects members of law enforcement, employees of social service agencies, and others. The law requires that they report the issue within 36 hours of becoming aware of it or beginning to suspect it.
Under the law, child abuse and neglect includes child sexual abuse, production of child pornography, and willfully harming a child. The charge for not reporting the crime is a misdemeanor offense and it can result in imprisonment for up to six months and / or fines of up to $1,000. In the event that the lack of reporting led to death or serious bodily injury, the maximum sentence can be a year in county jail and / or fines of as much as $5,000.
More About Aiding and Abetting
The other option, aiding and abetting, refers to helping a person commit a crime. A person can be charged with a crime if they knew the perpetrator has an illegal plan, encouraged the perpetrator to go through with it, and in some way aided, promoted, or instigated the crime. This does not require future knowledge – if a person finds out about a crime in the moment it is committed, if they then encourage and facilitate, they can be found guilty.
If you have been charged with either of these crimes, we strongly recommend that you get legal help as soon as possible. You can do so by reaching out to Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 for a free legal consultation.