misprision of felony | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminal Law

Misprision of felony is a legal term used to describe the act of concealing or failing to report knowledge of a felony (a serious crime) that has been committed.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the concept of misprision of felony. It’s like knowing a secret about someone doing something seriously wrong and choosing to stay silent. That silence, in the eyes of the law, is not golden; it’s illegal.

Why Misprision of Felony is a Crime

Why is it a crime not to report another crime? Well, the law operates on the principle of community responsibility. We all have a role to play in upholding the law and maintaining a just society. If you know about a crime and do nothing, you’re allowing that crime to go unpunished. That’s why staying silent can be a crime in itself.

What Misprision of Felony Involves

There are a few important points to know about this offense. First, you must actually know about the crime. If you suspect something but aren’t sure, you’re not guilty of misprision of felony. Second, the crime you’re aware of must be a felony, which is a serious crime like murder, robbery, or kidnapping.

Finally, your silence must be deliberate. Accidentally forgetting to report a crime doesn’t count. You must consciously decide not to report it.

Active Concealment

Misprision of felony isn’t just about staying silent. It can also involve the active concealment of a crime. For example, if you help hide evidence of a crime, you’re actively concealing it. This action can also make you guilty of misprision of felony.

The Consequences

So what happens if you’re found guilty of misprision of felony? The consequences depend on where you live, as different places have different laws. However, penalties often include fines or imprisonment. It’s a serious crime that carries serious consequences.

Reporting Crimes is Essential

Why is this law so important? It’s all about justice. The legal system relies on people coming forward with information about crimes. Without this information, criminals might never face justice for their actions. Misprision of felony laws help ensure that everyone plays their part in upholding justice in society.


In summary, misprision of felony is the deliberate act of not reporting or hiding knowledge of a serious crime. It’s a significant offense that reflects the responsibility we all carry to report wrongdoing and uphold the law. Remember, silence may seem like the easy option when you know about a crime, but it’s a choice that could land you in serious trouble.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 06/04/2023

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