The purpose of this article is to review and to synthesize those areas of the law bearing on the nature and extent of the citizen's modern-day responsibilities to inform on the criminal activities of others and to discuss the criminal law risks involved in lying to police officers during the course of their investigations of crime. Policy considerations, of course, are also advanced. These subjects, it is realized, constitute only a portion, and that a comparatively small one, of the broad area of the extent of the citizen's duty to cooperate with police officers, but, it is hoped, a sufficiently important one to merit separate treatment. Certainly there is need for such treatment if the extent of law student misunderstanding of these subjects is any criterion. The difficulty, however, has not primarily been with the students but rather with the confused, intertwining, and to a considerable extent overlapping way the law has evolved in these areas. Common law misprision of felony, modern misprision of felony statutes, duty to assist and to obey police officers statutes, two fundamentally different varieties of accessory after the fact statutes and obstruction of justice and lying to police statutes must all be considered together with accompanying case law and questions of policy and constitutionality in order to get a complete picture. Previous writings in these areas largely tend to concentrate only on one crime area, ignoring or virtually ignoring the others and a particular effort has been made here to avert at least this one difficulty. Organizationally, the discussion falls into two major parts, the first dealing with the extent of one's duty to inform on the criminal activities of others, the second with the risks involved in attempting to lie to police officers or to mislead them.
Dale W. Broeder,
Silence and Perjury before Police Officers: An Examination of the Criminal Law Risks,
40 Neb. L. Rev. 63
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