Harboring a fugitive

By Alex P. Vidal

“We also have a tendency to root for the fugitive. We’re always on the side of the animal being chased.”—Norman Jewison

PARENTS or relatives who help protect and hide their children facing criminal cases from authorities could be liable for harboring a criminal.

A former member of the Iloilo provincial board, who requested anonymity, said the parents of a man from a prominent political family indicted for multiple counts of fraud and tax evasion in the United States “could be in serious trouble” if they didn’t surrender him despite having full knowledge he allegedly ran afoul with the law.

“They can’t feign innocence especially if the case of their son is already a public knowledge,” said the former Iloilo board member.

Harboring a fugitive refers to the crime of knowingly hiding a wanted criminal from the authorities, said the former Iloilo board member, who was once the subject of an arrest warrant for being a former fugitive.

In the US, 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.

According to the US Legal, 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.


We know of many parents who have faced a similar situation: a family member or friend was accused of a serious crime.

Their first instinct was to offer help. After all, they believed the person was not guilty, and they wanted to do everything in their power to help them avoid possible jail time.

But there is a critical difference between offering moral or legal support and actually helping them to hide from law enforcement.

According to Rosenthal, Kalabus & Therrian Law firm, such acts may be considered aiding or abetting a fugitive under federal law, and in some cases you may end up being charged as an accessory to the underlying crime.

There are specifically enumerated offenses applicable to “fugitives for justice,” added the law firm.

In this context, a “fugitive” is normally defined as someone subject to a court-issued arrest warrant, as opposed to someone who may merely be under suspicion of a crime by the police. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1071, anyone who “harbors or conceals” a person to prevent their “discovery and arrest” is guilty of a crime.

The law firm stressed that if the fugitive’s alleged offense is a misdemeanor, the penalty for harboring the person is no more than one year in jail.

However, if the fugitive is charged with a felony, anyone who helps him or her evade arrest could reportedly face up to five years in prison.

The judge may also impose a fine for a harboring conviction.


With three to two days to go, some of the key drivers of the November 8, 2022 US midterm election are still inflation, crime, gas prices, abortion rights and former President Donald Trump as the chief election result denier.

Under the current Biden administration, Democrats control the House of Representatives by a thin margin and the Senate by the barest of votes—50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker.

If Democrats retain control, Axios said it will defy historical trends and conventional wisdom and give them a lifeline to execute stalled portions of their agenda and improve prospects for a second White House term.

If Republicans retake just one chamber, they can block President Biden’s agenda for the remainder of his term and launch investigations into his administration and his family, added Axios.

If they win the Senate as well as the House, Axios said they can pass their own legislation, block any Biden Supreme Court nominee should the situation arise again, blunt any significant congressional inquiries into former President Trump, and lay the groundwork for a potential GOP administration in 2024.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)