When you harbor an individual to help prevent them from being discovered and arrested, or you conceal a prisoner who has escaped, you have committed a serious federal offense. These offenses are punishable with up to five years imprisoned. The severity of the sentencing depends on the circumstances surrounding the charge. If a friend or family member approaches you to ask for assistance hiding from law enforcement officials, you should get in contact with an experienced New York attorney as soon as possible.
The statute regarding fugitives is 18 U.S.C. 1071. A person can be fined and given a maximum jail sentence of one year if they meet the following criteria:
- They harbor or conceal a person who has a federal arrest warrant out for their capture
- They intend to prevent the discovery of the person by law enforcement
- The individual had previous knowledge or warning that the warrant had been issued
If the arrest warrant in question involves a felony crime, or it was issued after the person was convicted of a federal offense, the maximum punishment for harboring that person becomes five years in prison.
For a conviction to be handed down, the government must establish these circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The federal warrant had already been issued for the arrest
- The defendant knew about the warrant
- The defendant concealed or harbored the fugitive
- The defendant had the intention of preventing law enforcement from finding the fugitive
The following statute, 18 U.S.C. 1072, concerns the escape of prisoners from a federal correctional facility or the United States Attorney General. Anyone who harbors one of these individuals will face a maximum sentence of three years in prison.
If the arrest warrant had not yet been issued when the defendant sheltered the fugitive, they would not be guilty of harboring a fugitive. The fugitive was not a fugitive at the time during which the defendant sheltered them.
If the defendant did not know there was a warrant, they cannot be guilty of harboring a fugitive. To be guilty of this crime, the defendant must have knowingly and intentionally harbored the fugitive.
If the defendant did not shelter or conceal the fugitive, they would not be guilty of this crime.
Furthermore, if the defendant did not intend to conceal the fugitive from law enforcement specifically, they would not have met the criteria for this crime.
The prosecution must provide evidence that proves, incontrovertibly, that the defendant met all of the relevant circumstances for a conviction. It’s fairly easy to prove the time the arrest warrant was issued, but it’s harder to prove the exact time that the fugitive was at the defendant’s home.
To prove that the defendant knew there was a warrant, the prosecution might use a number of different evidence types. Text communication, written statements, and witness testimony may all play a part.
Furthermore, to prove that the defendant sheltered the fugitive, they would need to provide more evidence. This might be more witness testimony, written communication, or photographic evidence.
A prosecution will have a hard time proving that a person intended to hide the fugitive from law enforcement, unless they can prove that said person lied to law enforcement about the fugitive’s whereabouts.
If you’ve been accused of harboring a fugitive, or you’re in need of legal advice, the law offices of Robert Tsigler can help. These experienced criminal defense lawyers have been navigating state and federal courts for years. They can help you understand your options and circumstances, and further ensure that your rights are protected.