Harboring a Fugitive: Legal Definition, Penalties, & More

Convict in a cornfield from jail

We’ve all seen it on TV or maybe in a Cops episode someone trying to avoid being arrested ends up hiding out at a friends or relatives house to avoid the police. The person may have even left the state the crime was committed in and went to another state to avoid being arrested.

Committing this offense in Nevada is considered a violation of both federal and state law.

What Is A Fugitive From Justice Under Federal Law

Being a fugitive from justice happens when you flee to another state or country with the intent to do the following:

  1. Avoid prosecution or prison for committing a felony or attempting to commit a felony
  2. Avoid prosecution or prison for attempted arson or arson
  3. Avoid giving testimony in any criminal proceedings related to the above crimes

Basically, a fugitive is someone who crosses state lines to avoid prosecution, prison, and serious legal proceedings. If you are finally caught, the prosecutors can press charges in the state you fled from or the state you fled to.

In addition to penalties of up to 5 years in Federal prison and a fine, it is also a federal crime to knowingly harbor a fugitive.

The Penalties for Harboring a Fugitive

The penalty for this crime depends on the severity of the case. Generally, it can range up to 5 years in a federal prison and/or a maximum fine of $250,000. If you are found guilty of harboring a fugitive who is also a terrorist or committing an act of terrorism, you could be looking at life in prison.

Below are the penalties you can expect depending on the crime:

  1. Fleeing arrest for a felony: Up to 5 years in prison or a fine for harboring the fugitive
  2. Fleeing prosecution for a non-felony: up to 1 year in prison or a fine for harboring a fugitive
  3. Escaped prisoner: Up to 3 years in prison for harboring the escaped prisoner

What is a Criminal Accomplice?

Accomplices in crimes are different from people who harbor fugitives.

Usually an accomplice to a crime is a person who knowingly and willingly assists a criminal in a criminal act. An accomplice provides assistance to the implementation of the crime. But are not always directly involved in the crime itself.

If you were involved in planning to rob a bank with someone else, even if you didn’t actually participate in the robbery itself, you could be considered an accomplice to the crime and face charges.

Note that in Nevada, there’s no separate “accomplice” penalty. Knowingly aiding and abetting others to break the law carries the same penalties as actually breaking the law.

Accessories to a Crime in Nevada

Depending on the circumstances, a person can be charged as an “accessory” to the crime, instead of harboring a fugitive. Under Nevada law, a person is an accessory to a crime if the person:

  1. Conceals or destroys evidence of the crime, or
  2. Harbors or conceals the person committing the crime

Basically, being an accessory to a crime in Nevada is a class C felony, with a penalty of:

  • 1 to 5 years in prison, and
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

What Are the Defenses for Harboring a Fugitive

The most common defenses against being charged with harboring a fugitive or an accessory charge are:

  1. You did not know the person was a fugitive: Maybe a friend from another state comes to visit you without warning, but they are a friend and they ask you if they can stay with you. As a friend you agree not knowing that the person is facing criminal charges and avoiding prosecution. If a defense attorney can prove that you had no knowledge of the crime or the fact your friend was a fugitive you cannot be charged with harboring a fugitive.
  2. The suspected criminal does not know that they are facing charges: If the same friend shows up at your house to visit from out of state and while visiting charges are brought against them without their knowledge. They cannot be charged as a fugitive if they don’t know about the charges. You cannot be charged with harboring if the person doesn’t know they are a fugitive.

Harboring a fugitive is a serious offense with prison time as a penalty, if you are charged as an accomplice, an accessory or for harboring a fugitive you should consider hiring a legal team as soon as possible. The choices you make now can have a profound effect on your future.

The Defenders, Nevada’s Legal Defense Experts

Most people don’t know what to do if they are charged with a crime or how to navigate the criminal justice system. Hiring a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the legal system is vital if you’ve been charged with a crime.

Each criminal case is different and a good lawyer will use their years of experience to specifically fight your case.

Trying to fight a criminal case without a lawyer is a bad idea and can lead to more problems and can be confusing to someone who doesn’t know the legal system.

Having years of experience in Las Vegas and Nevada The Defenders know the procedures of the courts as well as the judges and all other court staff.

Many things could go wrong if you don’t hire an attorney to represent you.

The Defenders will:

  • Will aggressively fight to get your charges reduced or dismissed
  • Can help achieve a plea deal
  • Can protect you from prosecution
  • Use our investigative team to examine evidence
  • Can fight to keep your criminal record clean
  • Help navigate any bail issues for your family members

You need to hire a lawyer immediately before the problems get deeper. The choice of a law firm you make now can affect the outcome of your case and make a lifetime of difference.

If you were arrested for a crime in Nevada you need a Nevada based law firm, where lawyers know the court system and laws of Nevada.

The Defenders is that law firm, with a proven track record of results.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to harbor a fugitive?

Harboring a fugitive is a criminal offense that involves knowingly providing assistance to an individual who has committed a crime and is attempting to evade arrest or prosecution by law enforcement. Examples of providing assistance may include hiding the fugitive, providing them with food or shelter, or helping them to escape.

What is the punishment for harboring a fugitive in Nevada?

The punishment for harboring a fugitive in Nevada varies depending on the circumstances of the offense, but it is generally classified as a category C felony. This means that upon conviction, an individual could face a prison sentence of 1 to 5 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Can I be charged with harboring a fugitive if I didn’t know they were a fugitive

No, you cannot be charged with harboring a fugitive if you did not know that the person you were helping was a fugitive. The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew or had reason to believe that the person had committed a crime and was attempting to evade arrest. However, it is important to note that knowingly helping someone avoid arrest or prosecution for a crime they committed could lead to legal consequences.

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