New York Hindering Prosecution charges apply to situations in which an individual provides criminal assistance to another individual who has committed a felony. A felony is a crime that is punishable by more than 1 year in jail.

Under New York Law, there are three different New York Hindering prosecution charges. Specifically, they are:

  • Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree,
  • Hindering Prosecution in the Second Degree, AND
  • Hindering Prosecution in the Third Degree.

The degree of which degree of New York Hindering Prosecution is charged by the prosecutors depends on the degree of the crime that the other individual committed. Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree is the most serious of these charges, Hindering in the Third Degree is the least serious of these charges. The difference in these charges is explained in further detail below.

What is Rendering Criminal Assistance for the Purposes of New York Hindering Prosecution Charges?

All of the Hindering Prosecution charges require that an individual render criminal assistance. Although that term appears very broad, Penal Law Section 205.50 defines it. Under Penal Law Section 205.50, rendering criminal assistance has the following elements:

  1. Intent to prevent, hinder or delay discovery, or apprehension of, or the lodging of a criminal charge against a person,
  2. 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 the crime,
  3. S/he does any of the following:
    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.

New York Hindering Prosecution in the Third Degree

Hindering Prosecution Charge in the Third Degree is codified in New York Penal Law Section 205.55. Under this charge, a person is guilty of hindering prosecution when s/he renders criminal assistance to a person who has committed a felony.

Examples of New York Felonies include: Grand Larceny, Rape, Attempted Murder, Felony Assault, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Fourth Degree and many more charges.

Sentencing and Penalties for Hindering Prosecution in the Third Degree

Hindering Prosecution in the Third Degree is a Class “A” Misdemeanor. As such, this charge is punishable by:

  • Up to 1 year in prison,
  • Probation (2 or 3 years),
  • A split sentence (up to 6 months jail, rest of the time on probation);,
  • Conditional Discharge (with conditions of sentencing set by the court i.e. completion of community service),
  • Unconditional Discharge (no conditions set by the court),
  • Time served (even if minimal).

New York Hindering Prosecution in the Second Degree

Hindering Prosecution in the Second Degree is codified in New York Penal Law Section 205.60. An individual is guilty of Hindering Prosecution in the Second Degree when s/he:

  • Renders criminal assistance to a person,
  • Who has committed a Class “B” or a Class “C” felony.

Examples of Class “B” and Class “C” felonies include: Attempted Murder in the Second Degree, Assault in the First Degree, Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree, Compelling Prostitution, Enterprise Corruption, Arson in the Third Degree and Manslaughter in the Second Degree:

Sentencing and Penalties for Hindering Prosecution in the Second Degree

Hindering Prosecution in the Second Degree is a Class “E” Non-violent Felony. As such, this charge is punishable by:

  • Indeterminate sentence up to 1 1/3 to 4 years incarceration,
  • Determinate sentence up to 1 year,
  • Probation,
  • Split sentence (up to 6 months jail, rest of the time on probation),
  • Conditional Discharge (with the sentencing court setting forth conditions),
  • Unconditional Discharge (no conditions set by the sentencing court).

New York Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree

Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree is the most serious of New York hindering charges. This charge is codified in New York Penal Law Section 205.65. Under Penal Law Section 205.65, a person is guilty of hindering prosecution in the first degree when:

  • S/he renders criminal assistance to a person who has committed a Class “A” felony,
  • Knowing or believing that such person has engaged in conduct constituting a class “A” felony.

Class “A” felonies are the most serious charges under New York Penal Law. New York Class “A” felonies are:

  • Aggravated enterprise corruption,
  • Aggravated murder,
  • Arson in the first degree,
  • Conspiracy in the first degree,
  • Crime of terrorism,
  • Criminal possession of a chemical weapon or biological weapon in the first degree,
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree,
  • Criminal use of a chemical weapon or biological weapon in the first degree,
  • Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree,
  • Kidnapping in the first degreeĀ ,
  • Murder in the first degree,
  • Murder in the second degree,
  • Operating as a major trafficker.

Sentencing and Penalties for Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree

Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree is a Class “D” Non-violent Felony. As such, this particular charge is punishable by:

  • An indeterminate sentence up to 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison,
  • A determinate sentence up to 1 year in prison,
  • Probation (only if the Court finds mitigating circumstances).

New York Hindering Prosecution Defense: Lack of Knowledge

Each Hindering Prosecution case requires its own individual assessment and many hours devoted to strategy. Generally, the toughest thing for a prosecutor to prove on a hindering prosecution case is whether you had actual knowledge that the individual committed the felony that you are charged with concealing. Therefore, if the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you that you had knowledge that the individual committed a felony, you cannot be convicted of any of the New York Hindering Prosecution charges. Thus, focusing on the lack of knowledge can be a viable defense strategy to New York hindering charges.

For example, let’s say your cousin comes to your house and tells you he got into a fight with his girlfriend and needs to stay at your place for a few days. You let your cousin stay at your apartment. Your conduct meets the definition of harboring or concealing a person. However, if the police can’t prove that you let your cousin stay with you because you had knowledge that he committed a felony, then you can’t be charged with New York’s Hindering Prosecution charge.

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