Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Misprision Definition:

Offence in aid of the most seriously punished crimes in the ancient common law of England.

A misprision falls just short of the most serious offences such as reason of other felonies which were anciently punished by death (eg. treason or sedition).

Examples are hiding a fugitive of such a high offence or hiding the proceeds of their crime.

Another controversial example of misprision is the concealment of treason. If an individual became privy to words or plans which were treasonous, they had an obligation to report same to the authorities. Failure to do so left them exposed to the crime of misprision.

Old law books distinguish between positive misprision such as embezzlement of public funds, and negative misprision, such as the harbouring of a fugitive or the undeclared knowledge of treason.


  • Brown, Archibald, A New Law Dictionary and Institute of the Whole Law for the Use of Students, the Legal Profession and the Public (London: Stevens & Sons, 1874), Page 240-241

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