Can you be charged for hindering a criminal suspect’s apprehension?

It is possible to receive misdemeanor or felony charges for helping someone accused of a crime avoid being located or arrested by authorities.

Is it possible to face criminal charges for preventing law enforcement from locating or arresting someone suspected of a crime? This is known as hindering prosecution, which can come with serious misdemeanor or felony charges in New York.

A high-profile story that has recently made national headlines provides an example of this type of offense. People may remember the 16-year-old from Texas who received probation after he struck and killed four people as he was driving while intoxicated two years ago. As part of his probation terms, he was not allowed to be near alcohol or drugs. According to CNN, after a video was posted online that appeared to show the young man at a party where there was alcohol, he and his mother disappeared. They were later found staying in an apartment in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The boy had changed the color of his hair and goatee. The mother was arrested on charges of hindering the apprehension of a felon.

What is hindering the apprehension of a suspect?

This type of allegation typically may include the following:

• Helping someone commit or get away with a crime with the intent of profiting from it

• Providing someone suspected of a crime with a disguise, transportation, money or another way to avoid law enforcement

• Altering, destroying or suppressing evidence of a crime to help someone avoid apprehension

• Threatening, intimidating, deceiving or using force against someone else to keep law enforcement from apprehending the person being sought

According to New York law, a charge of hindering prosecution can range from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony, depending on the type of crime allegedly committed by the person law enforcement is seeking.

Different ways in which someone might hinder prosecution

In the case of the mother from Texas, it appears she not only provided her son with transportation to keep him from being found, but helped him disguise his appearance and may have also provided him with financial support. Someone might aid a suspect in escaping prosecution by allowing him or her to stay in their home, while trying to help them avoid being arrested. A friend or relative might hinder law enforcement by helping the person suspected of a crime get rid of clothing or other evidence that could be used in court. It is also possible that the person who is hindering does so for a monetary reward.

Hindering prosecution does not mean that the person accused committed the same crime as the one that law enforcement is seeking. An experienced New York criminal defense attorney should be consulted after any criminal charge.