Compounding a felony

Compounding a felony was an offence under the common law of England and was classified as a misdemeanour. It consisted of a prosecutor or victim of an offence accepting anything of value under an agreement not to prosecute, or to hamper the prosecution of, a felony.[1] To "compound", in this context, means to come to a settlement or agreement.[2] It is not compounding for the victim to accept an offer to return stolen property, or to make restitution, as long as there is no agreement not to prosecute.

Under the common law, compounding a felony was punishable as a misdemeanor. Many states have enacted statutes that punish the offense as a felony.[3] Compounding a misdemeanor is not a crime. However, an agreement not to prosecute a misdemeanor is unenforceable as being contrary to public policy.[4]

Compounding has been abolished in England and Wales,[5] in Northern Ireland,[6] in the Republic of Ireland,[7] and in New South Wales.[8] In each of these cases, it has been replaced by a statutory offence.

See also


  1. Boyce & Perkins, Criminal Law, 3rd ed. (1992) at 576.
  2. "compound - definition of compound by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.". Farlex, Inc. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  3. Dasinger, Brian (2014), Felonies, retrieved 18 April 2014
  4. Boyce & Perkins, Criminal Law, 3rd ed. (1992) at 578.
  5. The Criminal Law Act 1967 (c.58), section 5(5)
  6. The Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1967 (c.18) (N.I.), section 5(5)
  7. The Criminal Law Act 1997 (No.14), section 8(3)
  8. The Crimes Act 1900, section 341
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