If your friend asks you to hold onto a box for them for a few days or a family member wants to “lay low” at your apartment for a while, you may be inclined to do what they ask. You may assume that as long as you don’t become privy to the details of what’s going on, you can feign ignorance in the event that the police end up getting involved. However, you still may end up charged for aiding an offender. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the crime of aiding an offender in Minnesota and the possible penalties for breaking the law.
Aiding An Offender Definition
Minnesota’s “Aiding an Offender” law is broken into three different definitions. The first definition focuses on helping or otherwise concealing an offender.
“Whoever harbors, conceals, aids, or assists by word or acts another whom the actor knows or has reason to know has committed a crime under the laws of this or another state or of the United States with intent that such offender shall avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment, may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than three years or to payment of a fine of not more than $5,000, or both if the crime committed or attempted by the other person is a felony.”
The second part of the law focuses on obstructing an investigation. For example, you may not want to tell police that your son, who has a warrant out for his arrest, is staying at a friend’s house, but at the same time, lying directly to police can put you in trouble. Here’s what the law says.
“Whoever intentionally aids another person whom the actor knows or has reason to know has committed a criminal act, by destroying or concealing evidence of that crime, providing false or misleading information about that crime, receiving the proceeds of that crime, or otherwise obstructing the investigation or prosecution of that crime is an accomplice after the fact and may be sentenced to not more than one-half of the statutory maximum sentence of imprisonment or to payment of a fine of not more than one-half of the maximum fine that could be imposed on the principal offender for the crime of violence.”
The third and final definition is in regards to taking responsibility for criminal acts. If you try to take the fall for someone else, but police find out you are lying, you can face criminal penalties.
“Unless the person is convicted of the underlying crime, a person who assumes responsibility for a criminal act with the intent to obstruct, impede, or prevent a criminal investigation may be sentenced to not more than one-half of the statutory maximum sentence of imprisonment or to payment of a fine of not more than one-half of the maximum fine that could be imposed on the principal offender for the criminal act.”
Knowledge Of The Crime
One of the most common points of contention when arguing an aiding charge is whether or not the defendant knew that they were knowingly helping a fugitive. If you truly had no idea that the individual you were helping was wanted by police, you may be able to have the charges dropped. On the other hand, if you remain willfully ignorant of a situation, police can still move forward with a charge because they can argue that you had reason to believe that a crime had been committed, even if you didn’t know for complete certainty. Willful ignorance will not absolve you, especially if a case can be made the suggests that a reasonable person would suspect that you were aiding an offender.
If someone you know makes a mistake and you end up facing criminal charges because you lent them a hand, know that you can face very stiff penalties and that you need a good lawyer by your side. For helping with an aiding charge, or to talk with a lawyer about a different criminal matter, reach out to Avery and the team at Appelman Law Firm today at (952) 224-2277.