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  #1  
Old 05-02-2012, 09:36 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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What (Exactly) Is "Harboring a Fugitive"?

In the "Godfather" movie, Michael Corleone flees to Sicily after murdering Capt. McCluskey and "the Turk" in the NYC restaurant.
He has (of course) been assisted in his escape by the family, and the Don's friends in Sicily.
Now, Kay (Micheal's ex GF) shows up at the Corleone family compound, with a letter for Michael. Family lawyer and Non-Sicilian consigliore Tom Hagen informs Kay using words like this" I can't accept this-if I did, it could be proven in a court that I know Michael's whereabouts".
So, would the Corleone family be guilty of harboring a fugitive-even if he was in Europe?
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:06 AM
anson2995 anson2995 is offline
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Yes. Harboring doesn't mean he's in their house. It means they helped him escape and know where he is. Here's the current text of the law in New York State:

Quote:
S 205.50 Hindering prosecution; definition of term.
As used in sections 205.55, 205.60 and 205.65, a person "renders criminal assistance" when, with intent to prevent, hinder or delay the discovery or apprehension of, or the lodging of a criminal charge against, a person who he knows or believes has committed a crime or is being sought by law enforcement officials for the commission of a crime, or with intent to assist a person in profiting or benefiting from the commission of a crime, he:
1. Harbors or conceals such person; or
2. Warns such person of impending discovery or apprehension; or
3. Provides such person with money, transportation, weapon, disguise or other means of avoiding discovery or apprehension; or
4. Prevents or obstructs, by means of force, intimidation or deception, anyone from performing an act which might aid in the discovery or apprehension of such person or in the lodging of a criminal charge against him; or
5. Suppresses, by any act of concealment, alteration or destruction, any physical evidence which might aid in the discovery or apprehension of such person or in the lodging of a criminal charge against him; or
6. Aids such person to protect or expeditiously profit from an advantage derived from such crime.
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  #3  
Old 05-02-2012, 03:52 PM
psychonaut psychonaut is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anson2995 View Post
Yes. Harboring doesn't mean he's in their house. It means they helped him escape and know where he is. Here's the current text of the law in New York State:
You have quoted the definition of "hindering prosecution", not "harboring". According to that definition harboring is one way of hindering prosecution, but the text doesn't define harboring itself, so it doesn't answer the OP's question.
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Old 05-02-2012, 04:14 PM
anson2995 anson2995 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psychonaut View Post
You have quoted the definition of "hindering prosecution", not "harboring". According to that definition harboring is one way of hindering prosecution, but the text doesn't define harboring itself, so it doesn't answer the OP's question.
I disagree.

The movie scene takes place in New York state, and this is the relevant law. The fact that the state's penal code does not further define "harboring", or that they don't have a law called "harboring a fugitive" is directly responsive to the OP's question. If the precise question was "is there a law called "harboring a fugitive," then the answer is no. But the clear intent of the OP was to ask whether Hagen and the Corleone family could be charged with a crime for knowing where Michael was, even if he wasn't with them. My answer addresses that on the nose.
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Old 05-02-2012, 05:56 PM
doreen doreen is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anson2995 View Post
I disagree.

The movie scene takes place in New York state, and this is the relevant law. The fact that the state's penal code does not further define "harboring", or that they don't have a law called "harboring a fugitive" is directly responsive to the OP's question. If the precise question was "is there a law called "harboring a fugitive," then the answer is no. But the clear intent of the OP was to ask whether Hagen and the Corleone family could be charged with a crime for knowing where Michael was, even if he wasn't with them. My answer addresses that on the nose.
Except that if the penal law doesn't define "to harbor " then it has its ordinary English meaning of "to conceal, hide or give shelter to." Tom Hagen has no obligation to inform the police of where Michael is. However, he cannot lie and thereby obstruct governmental administration, hinder prosecution, commit perjury, etc. And he might be charged with conspiracy or being an accomplice. He doesn't commit a crime by knowing where Michael is- he potentially commits a crime by denying his knowledge and/or engaging in a conspiracy or acting in concert with Michael. And accepting the letter, proving that he knows Michael's whereabouts could potentially be used to prove those crimes.

Last edited by doreen; 05-02-2012 at 05:56 PM..
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:07 AM
Gray Ghost Gray Ghost is offline
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From this site, harboring a fugitive means to knowingly hide a wanted criminal from the authorities. Different authorities are going to have slightly different definitions of what behavior it takes in order to be guilty of the crime of harboring.

There are several U.S. federal statutes that cover harboring and flight from prosecution, in Chapter 49 of Title 18 of the United States Code. 18 USC 1071 is the most relevant to your question and reads as follows:
Quote:
Whoever harbors or conceals any person for whose arrest a warrant or process has been issued under the provisions of any law of the United States, so as to prevent his discovery and arrest, after notice or knowledge of the fact that a warrant or process has been issued for the apprehension of such person, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; except that if the warrant or process issued on a charge of felony, or after conviction of such person of any offense, the punishment shall be a fine under this title, or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.
So, in the U.S. federal criminal system, there are four elements that need to be satisfied in order to be guilty of 'concealing a person from arrest':
Quote:
Code:
(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.
Here's a link to the U.S. federal government's Criminal Resource Manual explaining each of the elements of the statute, with cited caselaw indicating what an AUSA needs to show for each element. (The link takes you to a page explaining the first element. Click 'Next' to get each element after that.)

Finally, here is a link to U.S. v. Hill, 279 F.3d 731 (9th Cir. 2001), which explains, eventually, that section 1071 has extraterritorial application. (Scroll down to Section II B. 2) Now, as to what the laws were at the time of the Godfather, I've no idea.
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Old 05-02-2012, 11:26 AM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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I seem to recall reading somewhere (yeah, not a good source) that these types of laws may exclude immediate or close family members (e.g. "harboring" your own spouse would not be an offense, but harboring your 4th cousin twice removed that you met last month on a genealogical web site would be.

Is this actually the case? Are there statutes or case law that specify either that it is an affirmative defense that the person that the defendant is accused of harboring is a close relative, or that the prosecution must prove that the person that the defendant harbored was not a close relative?
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:09 PM
Gray Ghost Gray Ghost is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert_columbia View Post
I seem to recall reading somewhere (yeah, not a good source) that these types of laws may exclude immediate or close family members.

Is this actually the case? Are there statutes or case law that specify either that it is an affirmative defense that the person that the defendant is accused of harboring is a close relative, or that the prosecution must prove that the person that the defendant harbored was not a close relative?
FWIW, the case I cited, U.S. v. Hill, concerns the conviction of a wife for harboring her husband. The court found no constitutional issue with her conviction. I don't know whether states recognize the affirmative defense you're asking about.

Edit: In federal proceedings, there is a recognized 'spousal privilege', the Gov't may not compel a spouse to provide testimony against his/her spouse.

Last edited by Gray Ghost; 05-02-2012 at 02:13 PM..
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  #9  
Old 05-02-2012, 02:16 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert_columbia View Post
I seem to recall reading somewhere (yeah, not a good source) that these types of laws may exclude immediate or close family members (e.g. "harboring" your own spouse would not be an offense, but harboring your 4th cousin twice removed that you met last month on a genealogical web site would be.

Is this actually the case? Are there statutes or case law that specify either that it is an affirmative defense that the person that the defendant is accused of harboring is a close relative, or that the prosecution must prove that the person that the defendant harbored was not a close relative?
North Carolina law specifically excludes immediate family.
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Old 05-03-2012, 03:48 AM
grude grude is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
North Carolina law specifically excludes immediate family.
Prosecutors and police rarely bring charges against harboring unless it is a high profile case that got attention in the media or like in the movie in the OP they are looking for any angle to go after someone. At least that was my experience knowing plenty of people picked up for mis-felony bench warrants sometimes in the other person's house they were living in(does it get more slam dunk?).
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  #11  
Old 05-02-2012, 04:17 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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What (Exactly) Is "Harboring a Fugitive"?

I just assumed it's what you did with the guy after you fitted him with cement shoes.
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