Mitt Romney made headlines a few weeks ago when a clandestine videotape out of Boca Raton (and it’s Ra-Tone, not Rat-on, so talking heads not from here should take note). He said he wasn’t worried about the 47 percent of Americans who were already voting for the president.
It turns out there’s another statistical 47 percent, those who are also not worried about their fellow Americans. In a 1999 survey conducted by Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, it was discovered that 47% of the people who witnessed a crime never reported it. Is this a sad commentary on American apathy or are people afraid to “get involved”? Would getting involved in the name a justice be such a bad thing?
One of the number one reasons people are afraid to report a crime is retaliation from the offender. If someone who witnesses a crime reports it, their name and contact information will be on the information given to the police, and becomes public record. Thus, the perpetrator of the crime can find out who ratted him out. So unless you are actually the victim of the crime, your motivation to report it is lacking. This may be the reason so many people who witness a crime retain their own lawyer. But is there a duty to report? In Florida, a new law, Caylee’s Law, makes it mandatory to report a crime involving a child, specifically, a missing or dead child and it arose out of the Casey Anthony case. But Florida goes a step further and makes it a felony not to report abuse of a child. So if you see a crime involving a child and do not report it, you could be arrested yourself.
One of the best courses of actions you can take is to hire a lawyer to represent your interests. The defendant and the victim have lawyers on their side, and you should too. Hiring a lawyer puts everyone on notice that you have a valid concern about the consequences of your actions, which in itself will cause the defendant to think twice before planning retaliation. A lawyer will also be sure to run interference in the event you may be looked at as an accessory after the fact if you don’t report the crime in a timely manner. A lawyer is looking out for your interest. If the crime becomes a high-profile case, a lawyer can serve as your spokesperson to the media and to law enforcement. So if you witness a crime and are concerned about reporting it, call the law office of Richard Tendler, Esq. and discuss your concerns with a real criminal lawyer who will be on your side, and only your side.