Are You Obligated to Report a Murder?

This is a discussion on Are You Obligated to Report a Murder? within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; This question came out of a talk I had with some friends: I posted something like this way in the past on some internet forum, ...

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Thread: Are You Obligated to Report a Murder?

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    Ex Member Array walleye's Avatar
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    Are You Obligated to Report a Murder?

    This question came out of a talk I had with some friends: I posted something like this way in the past on some internet forum, but I believe no answers came out it. The original question was whether you had to report a crime. But I'll go all the way and make that crime murder:

    Take this scenario: a man is taking an evening stroll walking with his dog in a public park, some areas of which have few people who go there. This is one of those. He's throwing a ball for his dog to catch and the ball ends up in some thick brambles and bushes. The dog goes in them and starts barking over and over and won't come out The man forces his way into the thicket to put the dog's leash on and drag him back to where they were. He stops and sees something. A body - a woman's body and then he sees a rope around her neck. She is obviously dead. Terrified he leaves. He knows the body will eventually be found. So, for reasons of his own, he does nothing. Does not report it.

    Has he broken the law?
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    And take one more story: you are leaving your house to drive somewhere. As you reach down and start to open the glass side door to leave, you see a car pull up behind another car that just stopped at a stop sign on your corner, about 6 houses from you. The driver of the second car winds his window down points at something below the first driver's car and mouths some words of alert to the first driver who rolls down his window to hear better. You pause and watch. The man in the second car gets out, he's wearing a trench coat, he nears the other driver's window and says something while still pointing towards the rear of the car and moving to driver's window. He also is taking something out from inside his coat: a short barreled shotgun which he fires twice into the other driver's head. He quickly walks/runs back to his car and as gets there suddenly sees you, frozen - staring at him. He just looks back at you, and resumes his activity, slams the door and pulls quickly away around the car in front with the dead driver.

    You could see the killer well enough to give a good description, and you know the make and model of his car. You do nothing. Police are called by someone else, and later canvas the neighborhood to seek witnesses. When they ring your bell you don't answer it.

    I'll leave the "WHY" in what he did (or didn't do) up to your imagination as in the first story - may be they are afraid something will happen to them from the killer if they speak, can be a number of reasons people stay out if it. But the point: for whatever the reason:

    Are you guilty of anything for not volunteering information in this murder?

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    VIP Member Array Brad426's Avatar
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    I'm no lawyer (but I do watch a lot of "Law and Order") but I'm gonna say yes, you are probably guilty of crime in the first scenario and almost certainly guilty of obstruction of justice in the second.

    Edit: more importantly you are derelict in your duty as a citizen.
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    VIP Member Array suntzu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad426 View Post
    I'm no lawyer (but I do watch a lot of "Law and Order") but I'm gonna say yes, you are probably guilty of crime in the first scenario and almost certainly guilty of obstruction of justice in the second.

    Edit: more importantly you are derelict in your duty as a citizen.
    You have evidently never lived in a gang controlled neighborhood. It is not easy for some folks to come forward not just because of their safety but the safety of their family if found out to be a 'squealer'. Not saying right or wrong, just the way it is for some folks.
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    Distinguished Member Array hardluk1's Avatar
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    I would feel if you did not stop and call it in you are doing your self and the obviously died person a big injustice. Now that is assuming the person really is died and IF you got close enough to check and someone see's you around that area and then goes to look at why you come hopping away from and moveing at a different pace from the area you may find your self at the cop shop. A perhaps not sleeping so well because of what you did need not do.

    Would I contact the law?? In a New York Second. I grew up up around south florida back in the 70's and early 80's when died bodies would be seen or found often enough. Might bump into an ole boy that does not speak english with a machine gun by a tent full of bails and pray you don't get shot in the back. Had it happen to me a few times.

    If you were a woodsmen you seen buzzards circleing many would go to see what deer or pig or bear someone wounded to go off to die.Turns out some times they were not 4 legged. A guy that took care of our hunt camp was killed there by some outlaws and a couple of use found him, or the buzzards and remains. Yes you call.

    Guess you should contact and ask a deputy or DA !!! Now if the BG new you and say you after the dirty deed. Might be time to move away from the run down area of the big city too

    And no I don't live in gang land. If you do, might be time to find the country side way of life. They may come back to shot you anyhow if they think you say what happend.

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    Member Array Doubledown's Avatar
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    The real question is, can the police prove that you knew something and did not report it. If it is a crime how do the police prove you did not report it. In the first case unless someone saw you or you dropped your wallet how could they know you were there. In the second case how can they prove you were outside or looking out your window at the exact moment. If there is video evidence of you at the scene then I would guess you are guilty of with holding information or obstruction or whatever else they think up.

    Now is it the right thing to do, no. If I see a crime take place like in case 2 how do I know that I will not be killed even if I keep my mouth shut? Do you trust in the integrity of a murderer that if I don't talk he won't kill me to be sure. I guess if I was living in a gang controlled dump I may close the blinds and never look outside but I think I would still find a way to relocate.

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    Member Array lyz_grace's Avatar
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    Hm. I'll be following this.Thanks for that link - I would definitely have guessed differently than a lot of that information!

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    Member Array quack's Avatar
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    at least report anonymously - hotline etc . . .
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    Distinguished Member Array Burns's Avatar
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    You don't legally have to report a crime that you witnessed.

    You do have to live with the decision to not report it tho.
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    VIP Member Array Brad426's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burns View Post
    You don't legally have to report a crime that you witnessed.

    You do have to live with the decision to not report it tho.
    Not reporting, okay, but not telling the police during a canvas has got to be obstruction of justice, right? Not that the police could PROVE it, but technically a crime?
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    Distinguished Member Array Burns's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad426 View Post
    Not reporting, okay, but not telling the police during a canvas has got to be obstruction of justice, right? Not that the police could PROVE it, but technically a crime?
    I don't believe you have to tell them anything because you have the right to remain silent.

    But if you LIE to them, then yes it could be obstruction of justice.


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    Is not reporting it a crime? Hmm, all depends on what your definition of IS is.
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    VIP Member Array Crowman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burns View Post
    I don't believe you have to tell them anything because you have the right to remain silent.
    But if you LIE to them, then yes it could be obstruction of justice.
    (LEOs, correct me if I'm wrong)
    Keep in mind, law enforcement officers are not attorneys and do not know all the laws the same as most citizens. Most are very familiar with the laws they end up dealing with over and over in the line of duty.

    To find the real answer to a legal question one needs to research law cases if they know how/have the time to do so or contact an attorney.
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