In season 3 of Breaking Bad, Skyler finds out Walter is a cook, but she doesn't want to report him. Is she bound by law to report him? If she stays, she would be considered an accessory "after the fact". However if she left and still did not report his crime, could she still be liable. I am curious because of spouse privilege.

  • 6
    Spousal privilege means she cannot be compelled to testify against Walter as a witness. It doesn't mean she is immune to the laws she breaks, or the legal peril she might suffer from being aware of, and not reporting his crimes.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Aug 31, 2020 at 2:01
  • I should have rephrased my question. If the moment she knew he was committing a crime and left without participating in any crime, would she still be liable?
    – Perry_M
    Commented Aug 31, 2020 at 2:46

1 Answer 1


As usual the IANAL (I am not a lawyer) warning applies.

It appears that under New Mexico law (in common with many states) the failure to report a felony crime is in itself crime, called 'misprison of a felony'. It is a common law misdemeanor.

I found an example where a New Mexico resident was convicted of misprison of a felony because

She failed to report to law enforcement that [her partner] was committing federal felony offenses at their residence. More specifically, [she] admitted knowing that [her partner] was selling methamphetamine out of their residence and that he illegally possessed a firearm despite his status as a convicted felon.

Spousal privilege would only help Walter and Skyler in that they could not be compelled to testify as witnesses against each other in court. I don't believe it would protect Skyler from not reporting crimes she was aware of, if that could be proven.

  • Spousal privilege is itself a jurisdictional thing. It need not mean or exist in the same ways in federal court as it does in state court (and different states can also differ). Right now, even changing the federal court district can alter if the privilege even exists (in federal courts in that district). Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 23:05
  • @zibadawatimmy .... yes, but the main point is that spousal privilege doesn't really apply to the described situation. Not reporting a crime she is aware of is still a criminal act.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 4:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .