Case Caption: Shevron Percival v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2013-0090Date: 08/12/2014Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary:

A defendant's conviction for the crime of misprision of a felony under 14 V.I.C. § 13, based upon his refusal to disclose the details of a killing he witnessed, is reversed because there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty of the elements of this offense. Since the information clearly charged a violation of § 13, providing express notice of the crime charged, his argument on appeal is construed as contesting the sufficiency of the evidence. The terms of 14 V.I.C. § 13 are not ambiguous or vague. This section unambiguously criminalizes only the willful concealment of a felony from the authorities. The three elements of an offense under § 13 are: (1) the principal committed and completed the felony alleged; (2) the defendant had full knowledge of that fact; (3) the defendant took an affirmative step to conceal the crime. In this case the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence meriting a conviction. The People introduced no evidence at trial indicating that defendant took an affirmative step to conceal a felony and he cannot as a matter of law be found guilty of misprision of a felony under these circumstances, since the charging document clearly states that the alleged crime is based on the fact he admitted to being present during the killing and refused to provide information and/or cooperate with said police investigators. The People did not allege that defendant engaged in any conduct that would constitute concealing the crime from the authorities, such as lying to the police, hiding evidence, intimidating a witness, or harboring the individual who committed the crime. He was prosecuted only for refusing to provide the police with details of the killing, which is insufficient to support a conviction for misprision of a felony under 14 V.I.C. § 13. Therefore, because the crime of misprision of a felony under § 13 requires some affirmative act to conceal the commission of a felony and the People did not present sufficient evidence of such an act, defendant's conviction cannot stand. The judgment of the Superior Court is reversed.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion