How bad does a crime have to get before you'd be willing to turn a friend or loved one in for it?

A friend or a loved one commits a crime and you know they did it. Not only do you know, but, if called upon, you can prove they did it.

You can try to get them to promise never to commit the crime again, but you can’t be sure it won’t happen. You can also try to get them to turn themselves in, but for the purposes of this scenario that’s not gonna happen. Other people may or may not also know about the crime but - again, in this scenario - if you do not step forward there is slim to no chance the person will be caught. You can, however, turn them in anonymously without the criminal knowing it was you, though they may well suspect it.

So: what lines do you draw here? How bad does a crime get before you turn someone in? How much more can people very close to you get away with?

There are too many various crimes, circumstances, and degrees of closeness to come up with an exact formula, but for the purposes of discussion, think about how you would feel if a

spouse, child, sibling, other relative, best friend, casual friend, acquaintance

committed a crime such as

shoplifting, recreational drug use, breaking and entering, assault, various white collar crimes, sexual abuse, rape, murder

If one of my children was caught for a crime without my involvement, so be it. I can’t imagine a scenario where I would turn them in for anything less serious than murder or serious assault/sexual crime.

I guess I feel the same way about friends, spouse, and siblings.

Co-workers get turned in for any non-victimless crime.

Any misdemeanor, so long as it doesn’t effect me at all, I’m not going to get involved. Felony, the key would be violence. Somebody embezzles $100 grand from their employer, unless I’m subpenaed I don’t want to get involved. Somebody causes bodily harm to someone, I’m not living with that.

  1. Theft and murder are two crimes I’m down on. If by white collar crime you mean something like massive frauds that steal people’s entire life savings, especially if it destroys the savings of the elderly and retired, I’d turn my own child in for that. The reason is that by destroying lives the perpetrator ends up causing early deaths, suicides, the destruction of families, and even the destruction of the fabric of society. Fraud and corruption on a big enough scale is a kind of societal murder. I’m really, really down on corrupt judges. I’m not related to any, but those judges that took bribes to put kids in for profit prisons, I’d turn one in in a heart beat even if I was married to him.

  2. Regular murder, like killing someone and asking me to provide an alibi, only an idiot would ask that. I’d drop the dime on him as soon as I could get alone with my phone.

  3. Assault, sexual abuse, B&E etc. If your friend/relative will do it to someone else, they’ll do it to you. Show no mercy.

  4. Recreational drug use. Keep it out of my house and don’t drive stoned, that’s all I ask. And don’t do it in my presence or tell me about it.

Sexual Abuse, rape or murder.

I don’t have children or siblings, so it’s hard to say for those categories.

Disapprove, but I’m not the police and I won’t come forward.

Don’t care, won’t come forward.

Don’t care (assuming nothing was stolen), won’t come forward.

If there’s no permanent injury, I won’t come forward. For grievous assault, I’d probably turn in all but close relatives, and certainly casual friends and acquaintances.

Everyone but spouse, but only because in financial crimes I think I’d be guilty as an accessory. I’d have to re-evaluate my marriage, though, in light of this dramatic shift in values.

They all get turned in.

They all get turned in.

They all get turned in.

I can imagine exceptions, but that’s the general pattern. If one of my relatives were to murder my most evil relative, I might not step forward. I don’t approve of vigilante justice, but I can’t see a court system taking the time to understand just how wicked she is, while the family certainly does understand.

Depends on the victim in part. Shoot someone breaking into your house and decide to use a backhoe and the North 40? I may not like it but I’m not real concerned. Get drunk and shoot your wife? “Hello - 911? I’d like to drop a dime on my brother”.

Murder, rape, robbery, assault, major (>$1000) fraud, animal cruelty. Basically, not moving violations, littering, drug use or really petty theft.

No more than anyone else. Possibly a little less, if they’re my kid.

I don’t turn in friends or family, for anything.

It depends.

For example, what if the crime occurred years ago?

How about if your brother molested your three-year-old daughter? I mean, surely there are exceptions to such blanket statement?

I don’t have a daughter, so it’s difficult for me to put myself in those shoes.

But say it was my brother who molested my little sister, I’d prefer to handle it in-house. I wouldn’t stop my sister from going to the police though, and would support her is that’s what she wanted.

If you knowingly hurt innocent people, you’re no friend of mine. Unconditional love is for dogs.

This wouldn’t matter to me for rape, robbery, murder*, etc. I’d still shop them.
Not really going to care as much for simple assault, fraud, animal cruelty or no-injuries arson.

  • exception drawn for “murder” in the case of undeclared war - I’m not going to shop an ex-freedom fighter even if I find the idea morally repugnant.

I think it also depends if police actually had a case against said relative. What if your the only witness to the crime? What if other relatives are prepared to lie and backup the bad guy? It could well be your word against theres.

I wouldn’t turn him in. I would bury him.

It has less to do with the crime, for me, and more to do with if I am asked.

No matter the crime, if I’m asked, im going to be both honest and forthcoming, regardless of consequences for my friend.

Unasked, I’d volunteer the info I have were it an act of violence, interfered with a child, and nod angered someone’s life, or cost tax payers money. Or if I felt my friend would be best served by being caught, I suppose. Whether or not I remain anonymous would depend on the circumstances, who’s involved, etc. I do value my privacy so I could see that happening, but it would be depend on my mood, I think.

[ul][li]Shoplifting - spouse or child, I make them go back to the store, return the stolen items, and apologize. Everyone else - I don’t go shopping with them, ever. If I witness them doing it, I tell them to put the item back; if they refuse, I turn them in.[/li][li]Recreational drugs - depends on the drug. Marijuana - don’t care. Cocaine - my spouse or child would not be allowed to use. Other - not in my house or in my presence. [/li][li]Breaking and entering - I suppose it depends on the circumstances. Why did they break into the house - to steal? That’s burglary and I tell them either to confess and make restitution (as in shop lifting) or get turned in. [/li][li]Assault - same as above. Depends on the circumstances.[/li][li]White collar crimes - same as shop lifting. The choice is confession and restitution, or getting turned in.[/li][li]Sexual abuse, rape, or murder - always turn them in immediately.[/ul][/li]Regards,

Murder, rape/sexual crimes, cauaing major bodily harm. That’s it. Oh and treason and its ilk.

Saint Agatha of Christie teaches us that if you don’t immediately tell the detective everything you know, yours will be the next body in the library. And for crying out loud, when you get the detective on the phone - tell him everything. I mean, spill it. Don’t act all cute and coy. Don’t try to blackmail the criminal. Don’t make vague hints about “messages from beyond.” Don’t put it off. Don’t tell the detective that you’ll meet him on cliff after lunch where you will reveal all.

If you have proof, then sing like a canary to everybody in earshot. Your readers and loved ones will thank you.