A person typically may become an accessory by helping or encouraging the criminal in some way, but if you have any knowledge, report it to the authorities.
Knowledge of the potential of a crime may be criminal in a few circumstances. It depends on the nature of the crime and the belief that it will be committed.
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Knowledge alone that a crime is occurring or will occur is almost never a criminal act in and of itself. In nearly every circumstance, you cannot be convicted simply because you know something and refuse to take action to stop the crime. You might be a morally repugnant person for failing to act, but you will probably not be a criminal.
There are, however, exceptions to the above statements. In certain limited circumstances, failing to report a crime is considered a criminal offense. If you are in a position of trust and care for an elderly person, a child, or a handicapped person, and the crime is occurring against the child, elderly person, or handicapped person, you may be legally obligated to bring the abuse or suspected abuse to the attention of the authorities. If you work in the field of education, child care, medical care, elder care, or certain other professions, you may be required to report abuse or suspicion of abuse.
Outside of the above mentioned exceptions, you are not typically required to contact the authorities regarding mere suspicion of criminal activity. If you want to protect yourself, meet with a local criminal defense attorney and tell them what it is you suspect. Your attorney will advise you on whether you are legally obligated to report the suspected crime. If the crime you suspect is of a serious nature, you may want to discuss your suspicion with the authorities. Reporting a serious offense now could save a life.
The information provided herein is intended solely for educational purposes and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a local attorney for assistance with your matter.