Law Office of Michael L. Fell
900 Roosevelt Irvine, CA 92620
(949) 585-9055

Could You Face Criminal Charges if You Know About a Crime and Choose Not to Report It?

Nearly always, a person is not legally compelled to report a crime they are aware of that someone else has committed. This is true whether the individual was aware of the crime before it was committed, witnessed the act, or discovered it after it had already been committed. There are two significant exceptions to these laws, though.

After reading about the exceptions, call the Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 if you think you might be in violation of one of them. We are pleased to offer a free legal consultation to ensure that you are aware of your rights and your alternatives.

In case of these two exceptions, you may be charged

Some individuals work in positions that require them to be required reporters. According to California's Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, they are obligated by law to report any incidence of child abuse or child neglect (CANRA). If they don't, they might be charged with a crime. The second exemption is when a party encourages or assists the offender in committing the offense.

More on CANRA and the obligations of a mandatory reporter under it

Certain professionals may face charges if they are aware of or witness a crime involving child abuse or child neglect but fail to report it. Statute enforcement officers, staff members of social care organizations, and others are all impacted by the law. They are required by law to disclose the problem within 36 hours of learning about it or developing suspicions about it.

Child sexual abuse, the creation of kid pornography, and purposeful injury to a child are all considered forms of child abuse and neglect under the law. The misdemeanor offense of failing to report the crime carries a maximum penalty of $1,000 in fines and/or six months in jail. The maximum punishment is one year in county jail and/or fines of up to $5,000 if the failure to report resulted in death or serious bodily harm.

More information regarding complicity

The second choice, assisting and abetting, means providing assistance to a criminal. A person may be held accountable for a crime if they encouraged the offender to carry out their illegal plan, knew they were doing it, or in any other way assisted, promoted, or provoked the crime. This does not require prior knowledge; if someone encourages or facilitates a crime while it is already being done, they may be judged guilty.

We firmly advise that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible if you have been accused of one or both of these offences. Call the Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 to arrange a no-cost legal consultation.