In Texas, if you are a witness to a felony, you cannot simply pretend you didn’t see it or have knowledge that it occurred. The Texas legislature has made it a crime to fail to report a felony. The law was enacted in 2003, and authorizes the state to charge you with a Class A misdemeanor. This blog outlines the elements of the offense, and identifies potential defenses. If you have been charged with failing to report a felony in Texas, you want an experienced lawyer to protect your interests.
At The Law Office of Kevin Clancy & The Law Office of Tim Clancy, we offer nearly 50 years of combined criminal law experience, protecting the rights of people across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Kevin Clancy, a former prosecutor, has firsthand knowledge of the methods by which the state gathers evidence and prepares a criminal case. We can anticipate their actions and help you take preemptive measures to protect your rights.
The Texas Law on Failure to Report a Felony
Under Section 38.171 of the Texas Penal Code, you can be charged with failing to report a felony if you witness the commission of a felony, and the circumstances are such that a reasonable person would have believed that an offense had been committed that would result in serious bodily harm or death, and you fail to report the crime. The statute requires that you immediately report the offense to a peace officer or law enforcement agency. As a Class A misdemeanor, the charge can carry a penalty of not more than one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
Defenses You Can Raise
It is a defense to a charge of failing to report a felony that you reasonably believed that someone else had already reported the incident to a peace officer, or to a law enforcement agency. You are also exempted from the requirement to immediately report the felony if you reasonably believed that doing so would place you in danger of serious bodily harm or death.
Contact Our Office
For a confidential consultation with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us online at or call (214) 550-5771.
Attorney Kevin Clancy is AV-rated under Martindale-Hubbell’s peer review rating system.