Maybe your spouse left an email open on their laptop, or perhaps you pick up your kid's phone by mistake when a message comes in, and you see something that makes you think they're involved in criminal activity. It could be an email discussing how to split up the proceeds of a fraudulent business transaction, or perhaps it's a text setting up a drug sale. What should you do?
While Pennsylvania does not have a law that requires ordinary people to report suspected criminal activity, you definitely need to proceed carefully to avoid becoming involved in whatever it is may be going on with your spouse, significant other, or family member. And where children are involved, there is also the possibility that you as a parent may bear some responsibility for their criminal behavior. While the specifics of your particular situation are best discussed with an experienced criminal defense attorney, there are some general points that are worth considering.
Spouses Are Privileged
If it's your spouse who you believe is involved in criminal activity, you should know that Pennsylvania has what is called a spousal privilege law; basically, just as you have the right not to testify against yourself in a criminal matter, you also in most cases have the right not to testify against your spouse. (Exceptions exist for certain crimes such as murder and rape.) This privilege does not apply, however, to criminal cases against significant others or children.
Children Can Create Liabilities
Pennsylvania does require parents of children found liable for criminal acts to reimburse the victims of those acts. So if you suspect your child is involved in continuing criminal activity and don't take steps to put a stop to it, your own liability may increase if those crimes are ones that injure other people.
The Danger of Getting Dragged Down
One practical point to consider is that while seeing an email or a text message may not involve you in a particular crime, the longer that kind of activity continues with your knowledge, the more likely you are to get involved in some way and inadvertently become an accessory to the ongoing criminal activity. You obviously want to avoid this, and one way to make sure you do so is to seek the advice of an attorney with a great deal of experience in handling criminal matters in Pennsylvania – someone like Joseph D. Lento.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Are Here to Help
If you suspect a loved one is involved in any kind of criminal activity, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm immediately to discuss the situation and get advice on how to handle it. They have represented clients involved in hundreds of criminal cases over the years in Pennsylvania and can help you – and your loved ones – navigate what is likely to be a very treacherous situation for all of you. Call Joseph D. Lento today at 888.535.3686 or through our contact form. We are here to listen and help.
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