For example: you were convicted of murder and escaped and were then sentenced to years on top of your original sentence, but you were later exonerated of the crime of murder; would you still have to serve the sentence for escaping? Even though you shouldn't have been there in the first place?

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    There is a great documentary about this called The Fugitive </sarcasm> Mar 10, 2016 at 1:09
  • You would normally be either pardoned or exonerated at a fresh trial and probably compensated as well. Rather than be charged with fresh offenses.
    – user207421
    Mar 10, 2016 at 11:39
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    Interesting fact: In Germany, escaping from prison is not a crime (though any acts of violence committed during the escape are still criminal, of course).
    – sleske
    Mar 10, 2016 at 12:32

3 Answers 3


At the federal level, per 18 USC 751, escaping is a crime. In United States v. Allen, 432 F.2d 939 it was held that an arrest need not be lawful in order for an escape to be illegal; Laws v. US states that "This court has said that a sentence imposed for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 751 is 'not affected by the validity of the sentences being served at the time of the escape'", giving numerous citations. I don't find cases where the escapee was exonerated; prosecutors have the discretion to not prosecute for committing a crime, so it would be hard to find a case where the legality of such a conviction was upheld (also, hard to find a jury willing to convict in such circumstances).

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    At the same time, not as hard as you'd think it should be ... as Yates v. United States shows. A commercial fisherman being convicted of violating the Sarbanes-Oxley financial record-keeping laws for throwing back fish, does seem to indicate to me that federal prosecutors have the ability to win convictions in cases where you'd think that no reasonable person would vote to convict. Mar 10, 2016 at 1:26
  • Disturbing, but interesting. This article may or may not be accurate, but provides some intriguing counterarguments to Laws v. US. “An arrest made with a defective warrant, or one issued without affidavit, or one that fails to allege a crime is within jurisdiction, and one who is being arrested, may resist arrest and break away. lf the arresting officer is killed by one who is so resisting, the killing will be no more than an involuntary manslaughter.” Housh v. People.
    – Paul
    Mar 10, 2016 at 2:38
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    ** Please do not try this at home ** "“One may come to the aid of another being unlawfully arrested, just as he may where one is being assaulted, molested, raped or kidnapped. Thus it is not an offense to liberate one from the unlawful custody of an officer, even though he may have submitted to such custody, without resistance.” (Adams v. State, 121 Ga. 16, 48 S.E. 910).
    – Paul
    Mar 10, 2016 at 2:39
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    In the case at hand, I think we're assuming that the arrest, conviction, and sentence were lawful; they just happened to be incorrect. Mar 10, 2016 at 4:14
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    Note that in the question, the conviction for escape occurs before the original murder conviction is overturned. So there'd be no particular problem with prosecutor's or jurors' discretion, since as far as they're concerned they're dealing with a convicted murderer. Only later do they realise that the convict was innocent. Mar 10, 2016 at 10:09

I called an ambulance for someone attempting suicide. The police detained him under the Mental health Act (NSW) (you go to hospital). He escaped on the way to hospital. He went to the lockup and was charged with escaping from lawful custody.

If he had been taken to hospital a minimum 6 weeks of treatment. As it was now criminal he was held overnight and probably fined.

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    I don't think this answers the question. The person was guilty of attempting suicide and then escaped lawful custody.
    – jimsug
    Mar 10, 2016 at 9:17
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    @jimsug: Is attempting suicide actually a "crime" in the united states?
    – Zaibis
    Mar 10, 2016 at 12:39
  • So... if you mean they weren't found guilty of something then committed a crime, your answer still doesn't address the question.
    – jimsug
    Mar 10, 2016 at 12:42
  • @jimsug: I didn't asked in relation to Noodles' answer. Just out of curiosity about attempting suicide is a crime in the USA or isn't.
    – Zaibis
    Mar 10, 2016 at 12:57
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    @jimsug: law.stackexchange.com/q/7705/1272
    – Zaibis
    Mar 10, 2016 at 13:05

Normally, if someone has escaped a judge or magistrate issues an arrest warrant. If he or she is exonerated, the warrant can be withdrawn(, this is not to say it should be nor that it will be). If it is withdrawn, case closed unless the warrant is activated for some reason.

If it is not withdrawn, on arrest, there will be legal proceedings against that person that will decide the outcome.

Although escaping is a crime, it should not be difficult for any good lawyer to prevent a decidedly bad outcome.

  • The person could get decades for escaping, and be convicted for escaping years before they are exonerated
    – Darren
    Mar 10, 2016 at 15:07

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