Harboring a Fugitive from Justice

Under both state and federal law, if you knowingly hide a fugitive or wanted person from a law enforcement officer, you might be charged with the crime of “harboring a fugitive.”

The crime of “harboring a fugitive” requires proof that a person helps another person who is suspected of being a fugitive from justice or being an escaped prisoner who has avoided captivity.

Even if you were not involved in the underlying crime itself, if you protected a fugitive or wanted a person from being taken into custody, then you can be charged with a crime for harboring a fugitive.

The crime of harboring a fugitive can lead to punishments under state and federal law.

Attorney for Harboring a Fugitive in Tampa, FL

If you are accused of harboring a fugitive or wanted person n Tampa, FL, or the surrounding areas in the greater Tampa Bay area, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm.

The attorneys at Sammis Law firm can help you develop an effective defense strategy against either state or federal charges for harboring a suspect or fugitive.

We also represent clients facing extradition to or from Florida.

Our main office is located in downtown Tampa. We have additional offices located in New Port Richey across from the West Pasco Judicial Center and in Clearwater near the Criminal Justice Center (CJC) courthouse.

Call 813-250-0500.

Harboring a Fugitive from Justice under Federal Law

Under Federal Law, any person who knowingly harbors suspects or wanted fugitives from justice can be sentenced to the penalties for crimes listed in Title 18 of the United States Code in Chapter 49.

If you are charged with harboring a suspect or wanted fugitive targeted by federal authorities with the intent to help the fugitive avoid arrest, you might be charged with federal charges under Title 18 U.S.C. §1071.

The elements of protecting a fugitive under federal law include:

  • concealing an individual with a federal arrest warrant;
  • knowledge of the concealed fugitive’s arrest warrant;
  • the defendant actually concealed the fugitive; and
  • the defendant intended to help the fugitive hide from law enforcement.

The penalties and punishments for concealing a person from arrest may include a hefty fine or imprisonment of not more than twelve months or both.

The punishments can be more severe if the fugitive’s arrest warrant was issued for a felony charge or if the fugitive has already received a conviction of any offense and then fled from law enforcement authorities. The penalties for this offense might include a fine or imprisonment for up to five years.

In other words, under federal law, harboring a suspect or a wanted fugitive requires proof that the defendant knowingly hid a target of a federal investigation or a wanted criminal from federal authorities.

Federal statute 18 U.S.C. § 1071 prohibits concealing a person from arrest when the person who allegedly gave the wanted person safe haven knew that a warrant was issued.

The law also requires proof that the suspect actually concealed the fugitive from law enforcement authorities and did so with the intent of preventing the fugitive’s discovery or arrest.

Crimes for Concealing an Escaped Prisoner

If you are accused of assisting escaped prisoners to avoid detection by law enforcement authorities, you can be charged with a crime under state or federal law.

Under 18 U.S.C. §1072, the statute provides that “whoever willfully harbors or conceals any prisoner after his escape from the custody of the Attorney General or from a Federal penal or correctional institution, shall be imprisoned not more than three years.”

Likewise, Florida State Statute §944.46 makes it a crime to harbor, conceal, or aid a person who has escaped imprisonment. The crime of concealing an escaped prisoner in Florida can be charged as a third-degree felony offense, punishable by a $5,000 fine and/or 5 years in state prison.

Defenses for Family Members in Florida

Florida creates an exception for family members who harbor a fugitive from justice, along with thirteen other states.

This exception means that the family members of a fugitive from justice cannot be prosecuted for protecting the fugitive from apprehension by law enforcement authorities.

Under Florida law, the exemption does not apply if the primary offender allegedly committed child abuse or murdered a minor.

The term “family member” is defined as a spouse, parent, grandparent, child, or grandchild.

No “family member” exception to harboring a fugitive exists under federal law.”

Additional Resources

Penalties for Haboring a Fugitive in Florida – Visit the Florida Senate website to find crimes under Title XLVII for criminal procedure and correction under Chapter 944 of the State Correctional System in Section 46 for harboring, concealing, aiding escaped prisoners and the penalties. As provided in Florida Statute Section 944.46, Florida law prohibits harboring, concealing, aiding escaped prisoners. The statute provides that “[w]hoever harbors, conceals, maintains, or assists, or gives any other aid to any prisoner after his or her escape from any state correctional institution, knowing that he or she is an escaped prisoner, shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.”

This article was last updated on Friday, March 17, 2023.