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FAQ: What is the Crime of Harboring in Colorado?

Harboring a fugitive, means that you are helping them to hide out or keeping them in your home.

To aid or abet a crime is to assist in the commission of a crime. In most cases, someone who is guilty of aiding and abetting is not physically present when the actual crime is committed, but was aware that the crime would be committed before it actually happened.

The laws and punishments concerning aiding and abetting vary from state-to-state, but all states have laws against it. Just because you don’t participate in the commission of a crime doesn’t mean that you aren’t liable for your decision to assist the person who did commit the crime.

If you are not aware of the fugitive’s status and he or she is apprehended in your home. You would be questioned, but most likely you would be released and not charged.

To understand where the danger lies in helping a friend or family member avoid capture by law enforcement you must start with the concept of becoming an accessory to the crime… after the fact (the fact is the commission of the crime)

Here is the Colorado Harboring a Fugitive Statute – In Colorado – the Charge is Accessory.

18-8-105. Accessory to crime.

(1) A person is an accessory to crime if, with intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the discovery, detection, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of another for the commission of a crime, he renders assistance to such person.

(2) “Render assistance” means to:

(a) Harbor or conceal the other; or

(a.5) Harbor or conceal the victim or a witness to the crime; or

(b) Warn such person of impending discovery or apprehension; except that this does not apply to a warning given in an effort to bring such person into compliance with the law; or

(c) Provide such person with money, transportation, weapon, disguise, or other thing to be used in avoiding discovery or apprehension; or

(d) By force, intimidation, or deception, obstruct anyone in the performance of any act which might aid in the discovery, detection, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of such person; or

(e) Conceal, destroy, or alter any physical or testimonial evidence that might aid in the discovery, detection, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of such person.

(3) Being an accessory to crime is a class 4 felony if the offender knows that the person being assisted has committed, or has been convicted of, or is charged by pending information, indictment, or complaint with a crime, and if that crime is designated by this code as a class 1 or class 2 felony.

(4) Being an accessory to crime is a class 5 felony if the offender knows that the person being assisted is suspected of or wanted for a crime, and if that crime is designated by this code as a class 1 or class 2 felony.

(5) Being an accessory to crime is a class 5 felony if the offender knows that the person being assisted has committed, or has been convicted of, or is charged by pending information, indictment, or complaint with a crime, or is suspected of or wanted for a crime, and if that crime is designated by this code as a felony other than a class 1 or class 2 felony; except that being an accessory to a class 6 felony is a class 6 felony.

(6) Being an accessory to crime is a class 1 petty offense if the offender knows that the person being assisted has committed, or has been convicted of, or is charged by pending information, indictment, or complaint with a crime, or is suspected of or wanted for a crime, and if that crime is designated by this code as a misdemeanor of any class.

Some Cases to Help Understand the Law

Since the early days of the English common law, it has been generally held that any assistance whatever given to one known to be a felon in order to hinder his being apprehended, or tried, or suffering punishment makes the assistor an accessory after the fact.

This law does not violate a defendant’s constitutional privilege against self-incrimination. An accessory after the fact, by definition, does not need to agree to the commission of the principal’s crime.

Any assistance whatever given to one known to be a felon, including the harboring and protection of the wrongdoer, constitutes “rendering assistance.”

The mere failure to inform public authorities of one’s knowledge of a felon is NOT sufficient to establish that an accused is an accessory to the crime, however the offense can be established by proving the defendant was of personal help to, or aided, the offender in avoiding arrest and prosecution.

The act of an accessory providing a felon with a secret hiding place in order that he would avoid detection and arrest constituted giving shelter or refuge and thus violated the statutory prohibition against harboring and/or concealing. People v. Sandoval, 791 P.2d 1211 (Colo. App. 1990).

The standard for knowledge in regard to the accessory statute is whether defendant knew the principal had committed a crime. To convict a defendant under this section it must be proved that a crime has been committed; that after full knowledge of the commission of such crime, the defendant concealed the same, or that defendant harbored and protected the criminal after he had full knowledge that the crime had been committed.

In one Colorado case, where the defendant was prosecuted as an accessory to murder, it was necessary for the people to prove that the alleged killer had murdered his wife, and that defendant with knowledge of that fact concealed the commission of the crime, or that after full knowledge of the commission of the crime had harbored and protected the murderer. Lowe v. People, 135 Colo. 209, 309 P.2d 601 (1957).

Whether one is an accessory depends on whether what he did was a personal help to the offender to elude punishment. He need only aid the criminal to escape arrest and prosecution. Lowe v. People, 135 Colo. 209, 309 P.2d 601 (1957).

The Elements of A Crime Make Up The Crime: Here are the elements of the Crime of Accessory:

To establish that an accused is guilty of being an accessory under subsection (5), the following statutory elements must be proven:

(1) A crime has been committed;

(2) the accused rendered assistance to the actor;

(3) the accused intended to hinder, delay, or prevent the discovery, detection, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of the principal;

(4) the accused knew that the person being assisted has committed, or has been convicted of, or is charged by pending information, indictment, or complaint with such crime, or is suspected of or wanted in connection with such crime; and,

(5) the underlying crime is designated as a felony other than a class 1 or 2 felony. Barreras v. People, 636 P.2d 686 (Colo. 1981).

Mere silence is not enough.

Mere silence as to one’s knowledge of a felony, with no intent to aid the felon, or mere failure to inform the public authorities, does not establish such person as an accessory. Lowe v. People, 135 Colo. 209, 309 P.2d 601 (1957).

This law does NOT APPLY to a person who is guilty of the principal offense as a complicitor, if the commission of both offenses is grounded upon the same act; a different specific intent is required for accessory offenses than for the crime of conspiracy.

18-6-601. Harboring a minor.

(1) (a) A person commits the crime of harboring a minor if the person knowingly provides shelter to a minor without the consent of a parent, guardian, custodian of the minor, or the person with whom the child resides the majority of the time pursuant to a court order allocating parental responsibilities and if the person intentionally:

(I) Fails to release the minor to a law enforcement officer after being requested to do so by the officer; or

(II) Fails to disclose the location of the minor to a law enforcement officer when requested to do so, if the person knows the location of the minor and had either taken the minor to that location or had assisted the minor in reaching that location; or

(III) Obstructs a law enforcement officer from taking the minor into custody; or

(IV) Assists the minor in avoiding or attempting to avoid the custody of a law enforcement officer; or

(V) Fails to notify the parent, guardian, custodian of the minor, or the person with whom the child resides the majority of the time pursuant to a court order allocating parental responsibilities or a law enforcement officer that the minor is being sheltered within twenty-four hours after shelter has been provided.

(b) If the shelter provided to the minor is by a licensed child care facility, including a licensed homeless youth shelter, the minor, despite the minor’s status, may reside at such facility or shelter for a period not to exceed two weeks after the time of intake, pursuant to the procedures set forth in article 5.7 of title 26, C.R.S.

(c) It is a defense to a prosecution under this section that the defendant had custody of the minor or lawful parenting time with the minor pursuant to a court order.

(2) Harboring a minor is a class 2 misdemeanor.

Now Let’s Compare The Federal Harboring Law

Harboring a fugitive refers to the crime of knowingly hiding a wanted criminal from the authorities. Federal and state laws, which vary by state, govern the crime of harboring a fugitive. Although supplying funds may make one an accessory after the fact, supplying financial assistance to a fugitive does not rise to the level of harboring or concealing.

Here Are the Elements of the Federal Statute of Harboring a Fugitive

The federal statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1071, requires proof of four elements:

(1) proof that a federal warrant had been issued for the fugitive’ s arrest,

(2) that the accused had knowledge that a warrant had been issued,

(3) that the accused actually harbored or concealed the fugitive, and

(4) that the accused intended to prevent the fugitive’ s discovery or arrest.

Sec. 18 USC 1071. Concealing Person From Arrest

Whoever harbors or conceals any person for whose arrest a warrant or process has been issued under the provisions of any law of the United States, so as to prevent his discovery and arrest, after notice or knowledge of the fact that a warrant or process has been issued for the apprehension of such person, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; except that if the warrant or process issued on a charge of felony, or after conviction of such person of any offense, the punishment shall be a fine under this title, or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.


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___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
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