Legal Edge: Who is obligated to report a crime?

Legal Edge

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Are you under a legal obligation to report a crime if you witness one?

Local attorney Bryan Waldman says the answer is “tricky.”

Under old English common law, failing to report a crime was a charge called misprision. Michigan has no misprision laws, but charges can be brought if there are active attempts to conceal the crime.

Preventing someone from reporting a crime is considered an active step to conceal the crime.

There are certain moments where an individual is required to report a crime, however. This is known as “affirmative duty.”

“For example in Michigan, we have a statute that says if certain healthcare professionals are aware of elder abuse or someone being taken advantage of who’s elderly, there’s an obligation to come forward and report,” said Waldman.

“Similarly, certain healthcare officials or certain healthcare providers and school officials have an obligation to come forward and report … child abuse… So in those cases, there’s an affirmative duty, but as a general rule, just a general member of the public to my knowledge has no duty to come forward.”

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