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Flight to Avoid a Court Appearance

While most people are aware that those who fail to appear in court as ordered face sanctions from the judge, few know that doing so can actually constitute a federal offense that is punishable by fines and jail time. To ensure that you are not accused of leaving the state to avoid prosecution or give testimony, you should consult with a federal crime lawyer who can assist you.

Federal Crime

Under 18 U.S.C. 1073, people are forbidden from traveling across state lines or out of the country with the intent to:

  • Avoid prosecution, custody, or confinement after conviction for a felony offense or an attempt to commit such a crime;
  • Avoid giving testimony in any criminal proceeding involving a felony offense; or
  • Avoid service of or contempt proceedings for disobeying lawful process requiring attendance and the giving of testimony or the production of evidence before an agency conducting an investigation into a criminal activity.

This law also applies to parental abduction cases. Alleged violations of this law can only be prosecuted in the federal judicial district in which:

  • The original crime was committed;
  • The defendant was held in custody; or
  • An avoidance of service or contempt was committed.

Furthermore, prosecutions can only begin after formal approval has been issued by the Attorney General. Defendants who are convicted of this offense are fined and also face imprisonment of up to five years.

Flight to Avoid Prosecution for Damaging Real Property

Federal law also specifically prohibits flight to avoid prosecution for destroying or damaging any real or personal property, including buildings. The statute in question specifically applies to cases in which a person damaged or attempted to damage a building, vehicle, dwelling, church, educational institution, whether public or private, by fire or explosive. Those who are accused of committing this offense or who are subpoenaed to give testimony in a criminal proceeding related to this type of offense and flee the state to avoid appearing in court also face a five year prison sentence.

Concealing Someone from Arrest

Finally, anyone who harbors or conceals someone who is required to appear in court will be fined and may be imprisoned for up to a year. However, before a person can be convicted of this offense, he or she must have been notified that a warrant or process had been issued for the apprehension of the defendant or witness. In the event that the warrant or process issued concerns a felony charge or the concealed party is later convicted of the crime in question, the punishment can be enhanced to five years imprisonment.

Call a Member of our Federal Crime Legal Team for Help with Your Own Case

If you were subpoenaed or asked to appear in court and failed to do so, you need to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you avoid serious charges. To learn more, please contact dedicated Miami federal crime lawyer Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. at (305) 670-9919 today or contact a member of our legal team online.

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