Hire a Misprision of a Felony Lawyer
What is a misprision of a felony? It occurs when you are aware of a felony (or are a bystander to it) but do not report the crime to the police or authorities.
America enacted the felony into American law in 1790 and then later restated the law in the early 1900s. Because of its incredibly harsh nature, many states and countries no longer hold the misprision of a felony in their criminal justice systems.
The states that still charge individuals on counts of misprision of a felony changed the requirements in the last several decades as the initial principle behind the charge seems too harsh.
As a result, misprision now only exists in a few states. Yet, even in states that do charge, prosecutions are very rare because they are difficult to prove.
If you’re being charged with federal misprision of a felony, call the Zoukis Consulting Group to benefit from our criminal defense team.
What Is Misprision of Felony?
The idea of the misprision of a felony came at a realization that individuals have an obligation to report a crime to the authorities. Still, as we’ve progressed in civil rights and liberties, many jurisdictions have realized that being penalized for not reporting is far too harsh and encroaches on an individual’s civil rights.
Instead, to be prosecuted for misprision of a felony, you must not only be aware of the crime but also have a hand in the crime itself or actively conceal it. Now, it is not simply that the individual did not know about the felony committed, but that he took an active role in the felony or an active role in the concealment of the felony.
Under the federal statute, the prosecution must prove the following elements to obtain a misprision of a felony conviction:
- A felony was committed.
- The defendant knew about the felony.
- The defendant did not notify authorities or law enforcement about the felony.
- The defendant took active steps to hide the felony from authorities.
Furthermore, once the court proves that the defendant did conceal the felony, the court must prove the defendant had a nefarious motive when they hid the felony.
The combination makes it strikingly difficult for prosecutors to prove misprision of a felony does indeed apply. Naturally, this leads to a lesser chance of prosecution for this felony.
What Is Concealment?
For the courts to convict you of a misprision, they first must prove that you concealed efforts and hindered the prosecution’s efforts.
Valid forms of concealment include:
- If you gave false statements to authorities
- If you actively hid evidence
- If you hid a known felon
However, concealment is very difficult to prove. Take, for example, hiding a felon. The court would have to prove that you knew the offender had committed a felony before and while hiding them. Because it’s so difficult to prove, judges rely on the jury to decide if concealment occurred.
Once a defendant is charged, their sentence can range anywhere from one to three years in prison. Additionally, some states can charge individuals up to 250,000 dollars.
More than likely, failure to report a known felony to authorities is covered by other laws, such as accomplice liability.
Examples of Misprision of a Felony
In 2018, a man pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony in the District of Virgin Islands. The defendant took active steps to hide the cocaine and did not notify authorities of either the cocaine or his actions to conceal the cocaine.
Furthermore, when the defendant was arrested, he did not inform law enforcement of the receipt of the cocaine or the transport of the cocaine. As a result, he pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony.
Another example is Commonwealth v. Lopes, 1945, when the defendant discovered the body of a missing child during an affair. The defendant didn’t approach authorities of the missing body for fear of admitting his infidelity.
The court could not prove that the defendant had malicious intent as it was clear he did not come forward for fear of making his affair public. As a result, the defendant was not convicted. This is a perfect example of why proving malicious intent is so critical to a successful prosecution: if malicious intent is absent, it’s very rare that a defendant will be found guilty.
Hire a Misprision of a Felony Lawyer
Misprision of a felony is very difficult to prove. Prosecutors must show that the defendant had knowledge, intent, and maliciousness in not reporting that felony. Because misprision of a felony is so difficult to prove, many times, prosecutors are not successful in proving it.
Should a defendant be found guilty of a misprision, they face heavy fines and moderate jail time. If you find yourself facing misprision charges, don’t hesitate to contact the Zoukis Consulting Group.
Published Feb 15, 2022 by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA | Last Updated by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA on Feb 15, 2022 at 12:57 pm