The charge of Accessory to Crime, C.R.S. 18-8-105, is found under a section of the Colorado Revised Statutes titled “Obstruction of Public Justice”. The basis for criminalizing the act of assisting a person that committed a crime goes back to English common law. It is an affront to civilized societies for a person to aid someone in fleeing from justice because it circumvents the legal process.
In Denver, Arapahoe or Weld County, if a person intends to “hinder, delay, or prevent the discovery, detection, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of another for the commission of a crime”, she commits “Accessory to Crime.”
It is interesting to note that it is not enough to show that a defendant did not report the location of a fugitive, or assist the police in searching. (See People v. Sandoval, 791 P.2d 1211). A person must actually do something that conceals the whereabouts or assists the person being sought. Providing a place to hide in Aurora, or giving money to a fugitive friend in Littleton, or warning a criminal that the police are coming in Edgewater, is all it takes to be charged.
In August of this year there was story out of Las Animas County where two men were charged with Accessory to Crime because they were with another man that committed several weapons related misdemeanors. It is alleged that the two men arrested for Accessory to Crime concocted a story about being shot at by a fictitious person. This was done to lead the police away from their friend as a suspect. If the news reported the true facts of this story, it would be enough to be charged with Accessory to Crime.
I have talked often about the importance of remaining silent when you are being questioned by law enforcement. This is another good example of why. If the men in the above story had simply said nothing, they would never have been charged with a crime. They were not obligated to assist the police in their investigation. But, it is a crime in Jefferson, Douglas, and Adams County, or anywhere in Colorado to lie to police in order to prevent someone from being caught.
So, if someone you care about has committed a crime and is being sought by the police, or has a warrant for his arrest, the best help you can give is to tell them to call the O’Malley Law Office. If you are being questioned as an Accessory by the police, we recommend you “be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and call us at 303-731-0719. Together we can protect your future.