Many of us are inclined to help our friends and family when they're in need. While providing assistance with things such as moving or fixing a fence are acceptable, doing something like aiding someone who has committed a crime could result in a felony charge for the helper.
Harboring or Aiding a Felon Law
Suppose you had a friend who texted you and asked you to pick them up from a specific location. They didn't provide details about why they needed a lift, but being the good friend that you are, you complied.
When you arrived at the pickup location, your friend was acting strangely, jumped in your car, and ordered you to drive. Later, your friend told you that they just robbed a store, and you were their getaway driver. In Wisconsin, your actions could constitute a criminal offense.
Wis. Stats. § 946.47 says that if a person helps or harbors someone who has committed a felony in this state or another, they are violating the law. Specifically, they must have assisted the other person with the intent to help them avoid being caught or prosecuted for the crime.
Returning to the earlier example, if you drove your friend after they committed the robbery and didn't report it so they wouldn't be arrested, you could face charges.
Although this blog began with a situation in which you helped a friend flee from a crime, the law does not only apply to this type of action.
Aiding a felon in any way is a crime, and that includes doing any of the following to physical evidence:
- Destroying it,
- Altering it,
- Hiding it, or
- Disguising it
Let's say that your friend texted you and said to meet them somewhere. When you arrive, they show you the remains of a person they just killed. They tell you to help you hide the body so they don't get caught, and you comply. Because you're concealing physical evidence, you could be charged with aiding or harboring a felon.
Planting false evidence to prevent someone from being apprehended is also an offense.
What Are the Potential Penalties for the Offense?
Although aiding or harboring a felon might not seem like a serious offense because you didn't directly commit the crime, it actually is. Engaging in such conduct is also a felony, and the penalties you could face depend on the underlying offense.
If you helped a person who committed a Class A, B, C, or D felony, you could be:
- Charged with a Class G felony;
- Sent to prison for up to 10 years;
- Fined up to $25,000
If you aided or harbored a person who committed a Class E, F, G, H, or I felony, you could be:
- Charged with a Class I felony;
- Imprisoned for up to 3 years, 6 months;
- Fined up to $10,000
Being accused of a crime is serious. If you're facing allegations in Milwaukee, get the aggressive defense you need from the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella by calling us at (414) 882-8382 or contacting us online.