In order to prove that a person was harboring a fugitive, the prosecutor must establish the following:. Punishment for these charges may include jail time, steep fines, or a combination of the two. If the fugitive was facing felony charges, the person may face even steeper penalties.
One of the best defenses to harboring a fugitive is that the accused withdrew their support from the fugitive. The evidence will need to be clear cut. One way to show this is if the accused alerted authorities as to the location of the fugitive. Another defense that may be used is if it was a qualified family member that was being harbored. Florida is one of a handful of states that exempts the family members of a fugitive from prosecution. A family member includes parent, spouse, grandparent, child, or grandchild.
These family members may avoid facing charges if they were protecting a fugitive from being arrested by authorities. Federal law does not allow this same exemption. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.
Federal Charges. Harboring a Suspect or Fugitive in a Federal Criminal Investigation In a federal criminal investigation, harboring a suspect or a wanted fugitive refers to knowingly hiding a target of a federal investigation or a wanted criminal from federal authorities. In the case of a fugitive from justice, under federal statute 18 U. The requirements to successfully initiate a prosecution against a defendant for this crime are as follows: It must be proved that a federal warrant had been issued for the concealed individual's arrest.
Secondly, that the person who allegedly gave the wanted person safe haven knew that such warrant was issued. It should also be understood that a "fugitive from justice" does not necessarily mean someone who escaped from prison or escaped while under arrest or when being questioned by federal authorities 18 U.
In a federal case there are no exemptions to this charge although in a case prosecuted by the state there are fourteen individual states that give exemptions to family members. Four additional states greatly reduce liability to family members in reference to penalties. Family members are defined as a spouse or sibling, parent, grandparent as well as children or grandchildren.
Florida is one of the states that allow this exemption. Exceptions to this are cases where the primary offender is alleged to have committed child abuse or the murder of a child under the age of 18 years. This charge may be waived if the court finds that the person claiming the indemnity is a victim of domestic violence.
In a state prosecution it should be obvious that a friend or close associate would not be entitled to this exemption. If you or someone close to you has been accused of harboring the primary suspect or defendant in any type of criminal action my law firm based in Fort Lauderdale can help.
Even if you fit the qualifications explained above for a familial exemption you should still have proper representation when a case goes to trial and during the process when criminal allegations for harboring are being charged. Although the ineligibility of the familial exemption on a federal level has been challenged in the courts on numerous occasions, the courts have unanimously refused to recognize it as an exception.
Another issue challenged in the courts is what is known as the "No Justification Defense". This stems from the belief that the individual that harbored the principal defendant felt that the government was not justified in going after the person they gave concealment to or the case against them was a product of government harassment. This defense was also not recognized by the courts as a legitimate defense although challenged on many occasions.
However there are many defenses that can be employed if the government proceeds with a harboring case including a person being subtlety threatened or put under other forms of duress as well as a lack of knowledge that the principal defendant was in the process of fleeing from law enforcement. The penalties for harboring can be extremely harsh and in certain cases steep fines may apply.
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