Federal law makes it a crime for someone to harbor or conceal another person from arrest. The offense can lead to both substantial fines and custody in federal prison for up to five years. Please contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now if you’re facing criminal charges under federal law.

What is the Federal Law on Harboring a Person from Arrest?

18 USC 1071 is the federal statute that sets forth the crime of harboring or concealing a person from arrest. According to this law, you commit the offense in question if:

  1. A federal warrant has been issued for someone’s arrest,
  2. You knowingly harbored or concealed the person named in the warrant,
  3. At the time you harbored or concealed the person, you knew that a warrant had been issued for that person’s arrest, and
  4. You intended to prevent the discovery or arrest of the person.

For purposes of this law, “harbor” simply means to shelter or hide a person.

What are the Penalties?

Harboring a person from arrest is usually punishable by:

  • Custody in federal prison for up to one year, and/or
  • Substantial fines.

But the crime can lead to a prison term of up to five years if you:

  • Concealed a person from arrest after a criminal conviction, or
  • Concealed a person from arrest for a felony charge.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Yes. People charged with harboring a person from arrest can contest the charge with a legal defense. For example, recall that you are only guilty of this crime if you knowingly harbored or concealed someone from an arrest. This means you are not guilty of a crime if you had no knowledge of the concealment.

Consider, for example, the situation where someone named in an arrest warrant hides in your garage without your knowledge or permission. Here, if the act of hiding prevents an arrest, you are not guilty of a crime. While the person named in the warrant used your property to avoid an arrest, you were not aware of it.

Also recall that you’re not guilty of this offense unless you specifically knew that the person you hid was named in an arrest warrant. This means you can contest a charge by showing that you didn’t have this knowledge.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a concealing a person from arrest charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced federal crime attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on various federal charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers also have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these cases. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!