18 Sep 23

18 U.S.C. § 1071 – Concealing person from arrest

| by

Last Updated on: 21st September 2023, 11:14 pm

18 U.S.C. § 1071 – Concealing Person from Arrest

18 U.S.C. § 1071 – Concealing Person from Arrest

18 U.S.C. § 1071 is a federal statute that makes it a crime to harbor, conceal, or prevent the discovery of any person for whom an arrest warrant has been issued under U.S. law. This law prohibits helping fugitives evade law enforcement.

Background of 18 U.S.C. § 1071

This statute was enacted in 1948 as part of the original federal criminal code. It criminalizes interfering with the apprehension of fugitives from justice.

The law aims to prevent obstruction of law enforcement operations. It ensures those subject to valid arrest warrants cannot evade capture through the help of others.

Key Provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 1071

There are two key elements required for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1071:

  • Harboring, concealing, or preventing the discovery of a person
  • For whom an arrest warrant has been issued under U.S. law

The defendant must have notice or knowledge that a warrant exists for the person’s arrest. Mere suspicion is not sufficient.

Penalties for Violating 18 U.S.C. § 1071

Conviction under this statute carries the following penalties:

  • If warrant is for a misdemeanor – Up to 1 year imprisonment
  • If warrant is for a felony – Up to 5 years imprisonment

Fines may also be imposed up to the greater of $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for organizations. The penalties increase if the fugitive committed certain serious violent felonies.

Comparison to Related State Laws

Most states have similar laws prohibiting aiding fugitives and interfering with law enforcement duties. But 18 U.S.C. § 1071 establishes federal jurisdiction when the original arrest warrant was issued under federal law.

This allows federal prosecution even if the concealing of the fugitive occurs wholly within a state. Prosecutors have discretion whether to bring state or federal charges.

Possible Defenses to 18 U.S.C. § 1071 Charges

There are some potential defenses a defendant can raise, such as:

  • No valid warrant – The warrant was improper or invalid
  • No intent to conceal – The actions were not aimed at concealment
  • No knowledge of warrant – The defendant was unaware of the warrant
  • Duress – The defendant acted under immediate threat of harm
LEARN MORE  Wholesale Liquor Licenses Lawyers

An experienced criminal defense attorney can advise on the viability of any defenses based on the specific facts of the case.

Related Laws on Obstruction of Justice

Other federal laws prohibiting obstruction of law enforcement include:

  • 18 U.S.C. § 1501 – Assault on federal process server
  • 18 U.S.C. § 1502 – Obstruction of court orders
  • 18 U.S.C. § 1503 – Influencing juror or court officer

But § 1071 specifically covers concealing fugitives subject to arrest under federal warrants.


18 U.S.C. § 1071 prohibits concealing individuals subject to federal arrest warrants. The penalties for violating this law can be severe. Anyone charged under this statute should immediately consult an attorney to protect their rights.


[1] 18 U.S. Code § 1071 – Concealing person from arrest

[2] Concealing Person from Arrest | 18 U.S.C. § 1071

[3] Federal Law on Concealing People from Arrest

[4] 18 U.S.C. § 1071 – U.S. Code Title 18. Crimes and Criminal Procedure § 1071

[5] Lange v. California, No. 20-18 (U.S. June 23, 2021)