Thomas Carroll Blauvelt

I’ve been charged with harboring a fugitive. What do I do?

A long-lost childhood friend or cousin calls and asks if they can stay at your place for the weekend. You don’t hesitate to welcome them over, but then that very night, law enforcement comes knocking on your door. Through the loudspeaker, they call your guest out. You never knew they were in any trouble, but that doesn’t stop your arrest. You are being charged with harboring a fugitive. What happens next?

Unfortunately, this scenario plays out more often than you might think, and it can leave you in great trouble. Harboring a fugitive is a serious criminal offense both at the state and federal levels.

But what exactly is harboring a fugitive?

According to state and federal laws, you are deemed to have harbored a fugitive if you knowingly helped a suspect or a convict escape a lawful arrest or punishment for their crime. You can also be charged with harboring a fugitive if you hide a convict who has escaped from prison.

You might not have been aware that your guest committed any crime. However, you can face both federal and state-level charges and the resulting consequences by virtue of hosting them on your property.

What next?

If you are charged with harboring a fugitive, you need to explore your defense options. One of the most effective defenses you can cite is the lack of support for the fugitive. For this to work, however, you must be forthright with the authorities. One way you can show this is if you cooperated with the authorities in locating the fugitive from their hideout on your property.

Harboring a fugitive can land you in trouble with the law. Find out how you can defend yourself and safeguard your rights if you are charged with harboring a fugitive.


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