What happens if you conceal evidence of a crime committed by another person? In Arizona, the offense is called “hindering prosecution.” A.R.S. 13-2510. But what does that actually mean?
A recent news report centered on the death of a Phoenix woman earlier this year. The woman’s remains were discovered in a remote area of La Paz County, and police say that they showed obvious signs of trauma. The police were brought to the area by a witness who, they say, admitted that he was with the woman when she was murdered by another man. The police also say that the witness previously failed to reveal the information when he was originally interviewed by officers concerning the woman’s disappearance. The man has now been charged with hindering prosecution.
A.R.S. 13-2510 and the sections that follow contain the definition of the crime of hindering prosecution. The offense consists, basically, of rendering assistance to another person with intent to hinder the apprehension or prosecution of a person for a misdemeanor (A.R.S. 13-2511) or a felony (A.R.S. 13-2512). The term “rendering assistance” to another person can consist of, among other actions,
- Concealing evidence.
- Harboring the other person.
- Warning the other person of impending apprehension.
- Using deception to prevent the apprehension or prosecution of the other person.
In this case, the allegation is that the witness originally lied to the police and prevented them from finding the woman’s body and proceeding with their investigation – in other words, concealing evidence and/or using deception.
Presumably, the witness has been charged under A.R.S. 13-2512. That section provides that hindering prosecution of a felony is generally a class 5 felony, unless the offense is murder or terrorism, in which case it is a class 3 felony. At this point, while the allegations against the witness have been the subject of news reports, no information has appeared regarding any defenses to the charge. They also say that the woman’s boyfriend has admitted stabbing the woman.
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