Most people are able to go through their days without having to worry about too much. They get to go through their day as normal without any interruptions. Unfortunately, there are times when that can’t happen for whatever reason. This is typically the result of some sort of emergency.
One such example of something like this would be if a person were to witness a crime happen. Actually witnessing a crime can be a very scary and shocking experience for any number of reasons. After the moment of the crime has passed, some people are left wondering what they should do. Do they call the police, or just pretend that they didn’t see anything? They often don’t know what to do because this is not something that people deal with on a regular basis.
Who to Report Crimes To
When people witness a crime being committed, they should report it to the local police or sheriff’s department. They will be able to handle the situation and bring the perpetrators to justice. If a crime is something very serious, a person may also want to consider reporting it to other appropriate agencies after alerting the police. To learn who to contact for what types of situations, click here.
Unfortunately, many people will not report crimes because they feel like local law enforcement agencies either won’t help them, or decide that the case is too unimportant. This isn’t something that should stop a person from reporting a crime. If they need help, they should report it.
Is There a Legal Obligation?
Despite common belief, a person is not legally required to report crimes in most instances.
Some of the instances when a person has to report crimes in California are when certain professions, such as teachers, school administrators, and doctors, suspect that a child may be suffering from abuse. When a person reports cases like this, their information is legally required to be kept confidential.
Another time a person has to report a crime is when officers who are investigating a federal felony offense ask if the person knows anything about it. If a person doesn’t answer honestly, then they could face misprision of a felony, which is a form of obstruction of justice. However this, does not require a person to make a report of a crime after witnessing it.
What can get a person into trouble is if they knowingly helped a person hide from authorities after that person committed a crime. Doing this makes the person an accomplice and they could be charged with aiding and abetting a criminal.
An Anonymous Alternative
For those people who are afraid to report a crime to the police for fear of repercussions, either from the police themselves or the accused person, they can always report the crime anonymously. Most law enforcement agencies have places on their websites where a person can report crimes anonymously. This way, the crime can still be reported but the person doesn’t have to worry about any repercussions.
There are also hotlines and other websites that people can use to leave anonymous tips for crimes.
It is important to note that a person can try to remain anonymous when they dial 911, but many law enforcement agencies are able to track phone numbers.
There Is Nothing to Fear
Law enforcement officers do not go after people who report crimes, so a person should never feel afraid to report a crime. However, a person is not legally obligated to report any criminal activity that they may have witnessed. Only in certain instances are people legally required to report a crime to the proper authorities. So long as a person isn’t omitting information when being questioned by the police, or working in a profession that is required to report suspected cases of child abuse, they have nothing to fear.