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Video Transcript: What should you do if you think you’ve witnessed a crime? My name is Brian L. Jackson. I am a Tulsa lawyer with Wirth Law Office.
I want to talk to you a little bit about what to do if you think you’ve witnessed a crime. This is a situation that at first blush it seems really easy. Call the cops. But it may be not so easy. I mean, there’s a couple of things that roll around, that are wrapped up in this question that you need to be aware of.
First of all, there’s some types of crimes it’s mandatory that you report, and there’s some scenarios where it’s mandatory that you report. If you become aware of child abuse or child neglect, you are a mandatory reporter as a resident of Oklahoma. So you have to report that.
If you are in a fiduciary relationship with someone and you are aware of a threat to their physical safety or their financial wellbeing, you may have a duty to report that and put a stop to it. For example, if you were a guardian for a child or an adult, or if you are appointed as somebody’s attorney-in-fact, a power of attorney.
If you work for a company, a lot of companies have, as part of the terms of employment, if you observe criminal conduct on the premises you are required to report it to your manager. You may be required to report it to law enforcement. And failure to do so could result in termination.
So those are some examples of situations where you become a mandatory reporter, and there are various consequences that can arise if you don’t report. The counter-consideration though, is if you report a crime that you’ve witnessed, you are now on the witness list for the state. And that could come with some potential consequences, not the least of which being that you may really piss somebody off who could become a safety threat.
But also, if you’re mistaken there may be liability, either criminally or civilly for filing a false report. That could come back and haunt you. And it’s something to be careful of. And for this reason, it’s really important, and it’s very fact specific, if you’ve witnessed a crime or you think you’ve witnessed a crime, you really need to talk to an attorney before you take any action.
Our office, you could book out an hour with our office for a modest fee. And we’ve talked to you about the circumstances and we can advise you as to what the consequences might be for action versus inaction, and help you make the decision as to what to do. To do that you can go to makelaweasy.com to speak with an Oklahoma criminal defense attorney and we’ll be happy to talk to you.