Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution

Texas Criminal Law

The Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution (“Hindering Arrest“) crime in the state of Texas gives police officers the right to arrest you if they believe have deliberately helped someone else avoid being arrested, detained, or prosecuted by local authorities. The punishment for this offense ranges from a Class A Misdemeanor to a Third Degree Felony, depending on the specific allegations and the status of the person who is being sought. Learn more detailed information about the Hindering Arrest or Prosecution offense below.

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Hindering Arrest or Prosecution is classified in the Texas Penal Code under Title 8 “Offenses Against Public Administration”, Chapter 38 “Obstructing Governmental Operation.” The crimes in this category are ones that generally relate to actions taken that work directly against government processes, such as administration of justice or incarceration.

What is the current Texas law about Hindering Arrest or Prosecution?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution in Penal Code Section §38.05 as follows:[1]

(a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to hinder the arrest, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of another for an offense or, with intent to hinder the arrest, detention, adjudication, or disposition of a child for engaging in delinquent conduct that violates a penal law of the state, or with intent to hinder the arrest of another under the authority of a warrant or capias, he:

(1) harbors or conceals the other;

(2) provides or aids in providing the other with any means of avoiding arrest or effecting escape; or

(3) warns the other of impending discovery or apprehension.

This offense groups behaviors into three categories. One category makes it illegal to harbor or conceal someone who is attempting to avoid arrest or detention. This includes any action that prevents law enforcement from locating such an individual. For example, letting someone who is fleeing arrest stay in your basement would be an offense. You might also face prosecution if you told a police officer you haven’t seen the person they are searching for when you know that they are nearby.

Another category deals with helping someone else evade arrest by providing them with aid. This could include any active steps you might take in helping them get away. For example, giving someone your car to escape the police would be an obvious example. Alternatively, giving someone money so they can buy a train ticket to leave the state would be another example. Even telling someone that you know the bus out of town leaves in an hour might be considering an offense.

The final category is warning someone of impending discovery or apprehension. For example, if you discover that police officers are looking for someone and you let that person know that the police are on the way, you might be charged. In general, providing any information that lets someone know that they may be discovered or apprehended might fall under this section of the criminal offense.

The key to whether the state can obtain a conviction is how they would prove your intent. This offense not only requires one of the behaviors described above, but also an intent to hinder arrest.

What is the range of punishment for Hindering Arrest or Prosecution?

By default, the crime of Hindering Arrest or Prosecution is a Class A Misdemeanor. However, the statute elevates the crime to a Third Degree Felony if the person that is being aided is charged with, under arrest for, or being prosecuted for a felony crime. Learn more about the range of punishments for Texas crimes

At the time, I did not intendto help the person evade arrest or prosecution. Can I still be charged?

The law requires that you intentionally helped the person evade arrest or prosecution. That means if it wasn’t you specific goal to help avoid arrest/prosecution, you would not be guilty of the charge. For example, if someone came to you and asked to stay the night because their apartment was being fumigated, when in reality they were trying to avoid prosecution, you would not be guilty as long as you did not know that person was being sought and it wasn’t your goal to assist them in evading prosecution.

The only reason I warned the other person of impending arrest or prosecution was to convince them to turn themselves in. Can I still be charged?

According to the statute[2] , there is a specific defense against prosecution if you can show that the purpose of giving someone the warning was to “bring them into compliance with the law,” which essentially means providing them the information so that they can reveal themselves or turn themselves in. Because the statute specifically states this as a defense, you and your criminal defense attorney must raise this issue as a defense to show that the purpose of your warning was to effect such an outcome.

I wasn’t aware that the person I helped was being pursued for a felony. Can I still be charged with the felony level of this crime?

According to the statute[3] , it is required that you know that the status of the person you assisted included that they were being charged with, arrested for, or prosecuted for a felony crime.

Legal References:

^1. Texas Penal Code §38.05^2. Texas Penal Code §38.05(b)^3. Texas Penal Code §37.08(d)

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