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The legal responsibilities of “mandatory reporters”

by | Oct 8, 2021 | Sex Offenses

How can you get into trouble for a crime if you weren’t even there when it occurred? There are a couple of different ways (if not more) in Ohio — where child pornography is involved

Generally speaking, having knowledge of a crime doesn’t require you to step forward and tell the police what you know — except in certain situations.

Some professionals have a legal obligation to go to the authorities

Like many other states, Ohio places a particular burden on people in some professions if they witness or learn about certain offenses, including those related to child abuse in any way. These people are considered “mandatory reporters.” Some of the professionals included under this provision include daycare workers, teachers, doctors, nurses, clinical therapists and social workers.

If, for example, you’re a teacher and you accidentally discover your cousin’s child pornography collection while playing around on their laptop, just shutting the browser and not saying anything could put both your teaching license and your freedom at risk.

Others get into trouble for helping cover up a crime

Ohio has a statute that makes anybody who intentionally hinders “the discovery, apprehension, prosecution, conviction or punishment of another” for a crime guilty of obstruction. You can also get into hot water for destroying or concealing physical evidence of a crime.

For example, consider this: Your cousin tells you that they may be in a bit of trouble for some explicit images of children that they “accidentally” downloaded. Out of familial loyalty, you help them destroy their laptop and phone and hide the pieces. The next thing you know, you’re being charged with obstruction of justice.

People find themselves in handcuffs for sexually related offenses all the time — and not everybody gets there the same way. If you’re in legal trouble, make sure that you fully understand the charges against you and all possible defenses.