Misprision of felony

Misprision of felony is an offence under the common law of England that is no longer active in many common law countries. Where it was or is active, it is classified as a misdemeanor.[1] It consists of failing to report knowledge of a felony to the appropriate authorities. Exceptions were made for close family members of the felon[2] and where the disclosure would tend to incriminate him of that offence or another.[3]

With the development of the modern law, this crime has been discarded in many jurisdictions, and is generally only applied against persons placed in a special position of authority or responsibility. In this case, the offence of misfeasance in public office or malfeasance in public office may be considered instead. For example, corrections officers who stand idly by while drug trafficking occurs within the prison may be prosecuted for this crime.[4]

It has been abolished in:

In some cases, misprision has been replaced by a more tightly-defined statutory offence. For example, in England and Wales, the 1967 Act states that a person who has information which might lead to the prosecution of an arrestable offence—and who agrees to accept consideration in exchange for not disclosing it—is liable to imprisonment.[6]

United States federal law

"Misprision of felony" is still an offense under United States federal law after being codified in 1909 under 18 U.S.C. § 4:

Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

This offense, however, requires active concealment of a known felony rather than merely failing to report it.[7]

If one knows that one is a target of a federal investigation, it is illegal under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to erase one's browser history intentionally. Khairullozhan Matanov was prosecuted for erasing computer records about his friends, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev; he pleaded guilty to a lesser included offense in 2015.[8][9]

The federal misprision of felony statute is usually used only in prosecutions against defendants who have a special duty to report a crime, such as a government official.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Sykes v. Director of Public Prosecutions [1962] A.C. 582
  2. ^ Watson, Mark (August 30, 2012). "Compounding a felony and settling criminal offences". Blog. Lexology.com (a source of International Legal Updates, Analysis, & a Searchable Archive containing more than 730,000 articles). Corker Binning. Retrieved August 6, 2018. Misprision of felony was an offence under the common law...classified as a misdemeanour. It consisted of failing to report knowledge of a felony to the appropriate authorities and no payment was required. Exceptions were made for close family members of the felon.
  3. ^ R v. King [1965] 1 All ER 1053
  4. ^ O'Hagan, Andrew; Hardwick, Rachel (September 14, 2017). "Behind Bars: The Truth about Drugs in Prisons" (PDF). Corrupt prison staff. Forensic Research & Criminology International Journal. MedCrave. 5 (3): 4. doi:10.15406/frcij.2017.05.00158. Retrieved August 6, 2018. [In 2013, in Lebanon], inmates and prison staff were charged for allegedly forming and operating a drug trafficking ring in...prison. The staff involved included guards, officers and a doctor who provided each other cover whilst distributing the drugs to inmates...day staff were searched around once a year and night staff were never searched.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Criminal Law Act 1967 section 5(1)
  7. ^ See United States v. Johnson, 546 F.2d 1225 (5th Cir. 1977) at 1227 ("The mere failure to report a felony is not sufficient to constitute a violation of 18 U.S.C.A. § 4.")
  8. ^ Devries, Juliana (June 2, 2015). "You can be prosecuted for clearing your browser history". The Nation. Archived from the original on June 13, 2015. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  9. ^ Krotor (pseudonym) (June 8, 2015). "Clear your browser history and spend 20 years in prison". Daily Kos. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  10. ^ Smith, Jeff (April 7, 2014). "Chris Christie Is Toast: Federal prosecutors have their teeth in the New Jersey governor's close associates. And they ain't letting go". Politico. Retrieved April 8, 2014.

Other sources

  • Curenton, The Past, Present, and Future of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 4: An Exploration of the Federal Misprision of Felony Statute, (2003) Vol. 55 Alabama Law Review, 183.
  • U.S. Code Online via GPO Access (wais.access.gpo.gov) United States Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter I, Section 4

Further reading

  • For a discussion of the appellant's defence and the decision in Sykes above, see P.R.Glazebrook, Misprision of Felony - Shadow or Phantom, The American Journal of Legal History, Volume 8, No.3 (July 1964) pp. 189 – 208, Temple University JSTOR
  • For a general discussion of this offence from an American viewpoint, see William Lawrence Clark, A Treatise on the Law of Crimes, Hein, 1996, para. 439 pp. 679 – 680 [2]
2017 Halamish stabbing attack

The Halamish attack, or the Halamish massacre was a terrorist attack on a Jewish family in the West Bank Israeli settlement of Halamish (also known as Neve Tzuf), that took place on 21 July 2017, in which three Israelis were stabbed to death and one severely wounded. The victims of the attack were Yosef Salomon, his daughter Chaya and son Elad, the three who were murdered in the attack, and Tova Salomon, Yosef's wife, who was injured but survived.The assailant, a Palestinian from nearby village, was shot by a neighbor and was arrested. It was later discovered that he identified with Hamas and had previously been arrested several times by Palestinian security forces.

British Virgin Islands Criminal Code

The British Virgin Islands Criminal Code (No 1 of 1997) is a statute of the British Virgin Islands which consolidates almost all of the indictable offences under the Territory's criminal law.

The Code was passed into law by the Legislative Council on 1 April 1997, received Royal Assent on 1 May 1997, and was brought into force on 1 September 1997.

It is sometimes mistakenly said that the Code contains all of the Territory's criminal laws, but this is not the case. The Act expressly preserves offences under other enactments, as well as offences at common law.

Common law offence

Common law offences are crimes under English criminal law and the related criminal law of other Commonwealth countries. They are offences under the common law, developed entirely by the law courts, and therefore have no specific bases in statute.

Compounding a felony

Compounding a felony was an offence under the common law of England and was classified as a misdemeanour. It consisted of a prosecutor or victim of an offence accepting anything of value under an agreement not to prosecute, or to hamper the prosecution of, a felony. To "compound", in this context, means to come to a settlement or agreement.

It is not compounding for the victim to accept an offer to return stolen property, or to make restitution, as long as there is no agreement not to prosecute.

Under the common law, compounding a felony was punishable as a misdemeanor. Many states have enacted statutes that punish the offence as a felony. Compounding a misdemeanor is not a crime. However, an agreement not to prosecute a misdemeanor is unenforceable as being contrary to public policy.Compounding has been abolished in England and Wales, in Northern Ireland, in the Republic of Ireland, and in New South Wales. In each of these cases, it has been replaced by a statutory offence.

Criminal Law Act 1967

The Criminal Law Act 1967 (c.58) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that made some major changes to English criminal law. Most of it is still in force.

Drug possession

Drug possession is the crime of having one or more illegal drugs in one's possession, either for personal use, distribution, sale or otherwise. Illegal drugs fall into different categories and sentences vary depending on the amount, type of drug, circumstances, and jurisdiction.

A person has possession of drugs if they have actual physical control of the drugs (they have the drugs in their hands) or if the drugs are on that person. A person also has possession of drugs if they have the power and intent to control their disposition and use.In the United States, the penalty for illegal drug possession and sale can vary from a small fine to a prison sentence. In some states, marijuana possession is considered to be a petty offense, with the penalty being comparable to that of a speeding violation. Generally, however, drug possession is an arrestable offense, with repercussions including large fines and possible incarceration or probation.In Singapore, 70% of executions are for drug-related offenses, which encompasses drug possession. There is a national drug control law known as the Misuse of Drugs Act used to assess and determine drug trafficking. Drug possession can account for imprisonment, caning and capital punishment, based on the amount of controlled drugs a person possesses.

False accounting

False accounting is a statutory offence in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.


Harassment covers a wide range of behaviors of an offensive nature. It is commonly understood as behavior that demeans, humiliates or embarrasses a person, and it is characteristically identified by its unlikelihood in terms of social and moral reasonableness. In the legal sense, these are behaviors that appear to be disturbing, upsetting or threatening. They evolve from discriminatory grounds, and have an effect of nullifying or impairing a person from benefiting their rights. When these behaviors become repetitive, they are defined as bullying.

History of English criminal law

English law did not originally make a distinction between criminal and civil proceedings.

The first signs of the modern distinction between crimes and civil matters emerged during the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The earliest criminal trials had very little, if any, settled law to apply. However, the civil delictual law was highly developed and consistent in its operation (except where the King wanted to raise money by selling a new form of Writ).

The development of the state dispensing justice in a court only emerged parallel to or after the emergence of the concept of sovereignty. It was only in the 18th century that European countries began operating police forces. From this point, criminal law had the mechanisms for enforcement.

Identity Theft Resource Center

The Identity Theft Resource Center is a United States non-profit organization founded to provide victim assistance and consumer education through its toll-free call center, website and social media. The ITRC educates consumers, corporations, government agencies, and other organizations on best practices for fraud and identity theft detection, reduction and mitigation; and, serves as a relevant national resource on consumer issues related to cybersecurity, data breaches, social media, fraud, scams, and other issues. It was created in December 1999 in San Diego, California.It was the recipient of a United States Department of Justice National Crime Victim Service Award in 2004.

Inchoate offense

An inchoate offense, preliminary crime, inchoate crime or incomplete crime is a crime of preparing for or seeking to commit another crime. The most common example of an inchoate offense is "attempt". "Inchoate offense" has been defined as the following: "Conduct deemed criminal without actual harm being done, provided that the harm that would have occurred is one the law tries to prevent."

Metropolitan Courthouse

The Metropolitan Courthouse is a courthouse in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, housing the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court. The building is located on the northwest corner of 4th Street and Lomas Boulevard in an area known as the Courthouse District. The courthouse rises 175 feet (53 m) and has nine stories. Designed by DCSW Architects in a contemporary Art Deco style, it features a three-story rotunda finished with granite, marble, and travertine and a 36-foot (11 m) sculpture of the scales of justice.Ground was broken on the project in May 2001 and the building was topped out the following June. The courthouse opened for business on January 20, 2004, replacing the old Metro Courthouse at 4th and Roma.From 2005 to 2009, the Metro Courthouse was at the center of a high-profile fraud investigation, during which allegations emerged that a group of conspirators had siphoned off $4.2 million from the courthouse construction project in a scheme described by the Albuquerque Journal as "breathtaking in scope and star power." Eight people were eventually named as defendants in the case, including the former president pro tempore of the New Mexico State Senate and a former mayor of Albuquerque. The investigation ended with six of the accused pleading guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud, while the other two pleaded guilty to misprision of felony.


Misprision (from Old French: mesprendre, modern French: se méprendre, "to misunderstand") is a term of English law used to describe certain kinds of offence. Writers on criminal law usually divide misprision into two kinds: negative and positive.

It survives in the law of England and Wales and Northern Ireland only in the term misprision of treason.

Misprision of treason

Misprision of treason is an offence found in many common law jurisdictions around the world, having been inherited from English law. It is committed by someone who knows a treason is being or is about to be committed but does not report it to a proper authority.

Murder (Cuban law)

Murder in Cuba is classified into three major categories: murder with special circumstances, murder, and manslaughter.

Pope v. State

Pope v. State, 396 A.2d 1054 (Md 1979), was a case decided by the Court of Appeals of Maryland that abolished the common law offense of misprision of felony on the grounds of long non-use and excessive scope that rendered it incompatible with the jurisprudence of the state.

Psychic assault

Psychic assault is a term used by academic legal writers as a synonym for assault (or common assault) in order to distinguish that offence from the related crime of battery and so avoid confusion. The need for this term arises from the fact that the word assault is frequently used to refer collectively both to that offence and to battery.

The word 'psychic' is used to denote the fact that the actus reus of the offence that is correctly described as assault consists of affecting the mind of the other person (whereas battery consists of the application of force).


In the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984), by George Orwell, the word thoughtcrime describes a person's politically unorthodox thoughts, such as unspoken beliefs and doubts that contradict the tenets of Ingsoc (English Socialism), the dominant ideology of Oceania. In the official language of Newspeak, the words thoughtcrime, crimethink, and wrongthink describe the intellectual actions of a person who entertains and holds politically unacceptable thoughts; thus the government of the Party controls the speech, the actions, and the thoughts of the citizens of Oceania. In contemporary English usage, the word thoughtcrime describes beliefs that are contrary to accepted norms of society, and is used to describe theological concepts, such as disbelief and idolatry, and the rejection of an ideology.

Treachery (law)

Treachery is an offence in several countries. Both of the Australian and British offences were derived from or inspired by the related offence of treason. The name treachery was chosen because it is a synonym for treason.

Classes of crimes
Inchoate offences
Offences against the person
Sexual offences
Criminal libel and kindred offences
Offences against property
Forgery, personation and cheating
Offences against justice


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