Los Angeles Aiding and Abetting Defense Attorney
In pop culture, it is common to see characters charged with conspiracy for planning to commit a crime with another person or group of people. You may also have seen characters charged with crimes for being accomplices. The show or movie may not be legally accurate, but the concept is true. If you help one or face criminal charges for aiding and abetting.
An aiding and abetting charge can arise in a broad range of situations. California prosecutors will look for evidence that you in some way helped, harbored, concealed, or aided someone who committed a felony. This is also known as accomplice liability.
However, it is important to understand that aiding and abetting is not a separate charge. If you face charges as an accomplice, you will be charged with the underlying offense. You can face the harshest felony charges if the prosecutor has evidence you were an accomplice of rape, kidnapping, or homicide.
If you have been arrested or are under investigation for taking part in a crime or in helping someone who committed a criminal offense, call a Los Angeles aiding and abetting defense attorney at Spolin Law P.C. right away. We are here to investigate the accusations against you. We will carefully analyze the facts in light of California law, provide you with a criminal defense overview as it applies to your situation, and then build a strong defense on your behalf.
To schedule a free, initial evaluation of your case, contact us today at (310) 424-5816.
California Aiding and Abetting Law
If you are accused of being an accomplice or accessory to a crime, the relevant law is found in the California Penal Code (PC), Part 1, Title 2, §30-33. These statutes define parties to crime, principals, and accessories.
These definitions matter a great deal. You can face accusations of being a principal to the crime even if you do not directly commit the offense. As a principal, you may be charged with the underlying crime.
You could be accused of being an accessory if you see, speak to, or hear from someone you know after they commit a felony. It can seem like you are guilty by association. You could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony if prosecutors believe you helped someone after they committed a felony.
To learn more about California law regarding parties to crimes and aiding and abetting criminals, do not hesitate to call a Los Angeles aiding and abetting defense attorney right away.
When You May Face an Aiding and Abetting Charge
Under PC §30, the parties to crimes are classified as principals and accessories. Principals and accessories to crimes are treated differently. You may be charged with the crime if you are considered a principal to it based on PC §31. This statute states that you are considered a principal of a crime if you:
- Directly commit the act constituting the offense
- Aided and abetted in the commission of the offense
- Advised or encouraged the commission of the crime
- Counseled, advised, or encouraged a child under 14-years-old or a person who was mentally incapacitated to commit a crime
- By fraud, contrivance, or force caused the drunkenness of another person to cause them to commit a crime
- Used threats, menace, commands, or coercion to compel another person to commit a crime
Not everyone who participates in a crime or helps someone commit an offense is considered a principal. If you are an accessory under Penal Code §32, then you may face a lesser, separate charge and a potentially lighter punishment.
If you are accused of being a principal to a crime by aiding and abetting another criminal, or by acting in one of these other ways listed above, then you need to call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer immediately.
What is an Accomplice?
An accomplice is a person who assists in the commission of a crime. It is a person who may not have committed the crime directly but helped others do so. An accomplice also may have helped the offenders conceal their offense or try to escape justice.
Aiding and abetting a crime is one way in which someone may be an accomplice. Under PC §30-33, anyone who is a party to a crime can face charges for an offense. If you are found to have aided and abetted an offender, then you are considered a principal to the crime. You may be charged with the same offense and face the maximum penalties as the person or people who directly committed the offense.
Examples of Aiding and Abetting
There are numerous possibilities regarding how you can be accused of aiding and abetting a criminal or how you may be considered a principal in a crime. If prosecutors believe they can prove you were a principal under PC §31, then they will charge you with the misdemeanor or convene a grand jury and ask for a felony indictment.
Some common examples of aiding and abetting in California include:
- Assisting in planning the crime, including choosing a location or victim, staking out a location or victim, or learning about a location’s security measures.
- Providing transportation before, during, or after the commission of the crime.
- Obtaining firearms, other weapons, or other criminal devices necessary to commit the crime.
- Assisting in bombmaking, such as teaching someone how to make a bomb, obtaining materials to make a bomb, making or placing the bomb.
- Concealing the commission of the crime before and during the offense.
If you have been accused of committing an offense similar to the ones listed above, contact a Los Angeles aiding and abetting defense attorney for help right away.
Being an Accomplice to Murder
Under this law, you could be charged with murder without directly committing homicide. You may be accused of being an accomplice to murder if you helped the offender plan and carry out their crime in one or more ways. To be an accomplice, you must have assisted in the crime before or while it took place.
If you are convicted based on evidence of aiding and abetting the offender, then you can be punished as if you caused the victim’s death.
Depending on the circumstances, you could face a harsher charge and penalty than the person who directly committed the murder. The individual who committed the murder may get the opportunity to plead guilty a lesser charge based on the facts of that case. You may not have this opportunity. Or, there may be mitigating circumstances or defenses available to the offense that you do not have.
If you are facing a serious felony offense, such as murder or rape, and you were not the direct offender, call a Los Angeles aiding and abetting defense attorney immediately. You are going to need a strong and aggressive defense, and an attorney from Spolin Law P.C. can help.
What a Prosecutor Must Prove in an Aiding and Abetting Trial
Laws regarding parties to a crime influence how the prosecutor proves your guilt. When you are accused of being an accomplice, the prosecutor will not try to show the jury you actually committed the offense or attempted to commit it beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, the prosecutor will seek to prove you aided and abetted, or in some way helped the person or people who committed the crime.
For example, when another person committed a robbery by brandishing a weapon and insisting a homeowner hand over their prized possessions, the prosecutor will not try to prove you committed the actual robbery. They may claim you were an accomplice to robbery by knowingly providing the weapon, being a lookout, or driving a getaway vehicle. You may not have committed the crime, but by being the robber’s accomplice, you will also face robbery charges.
The prosecutor will seek to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- A crime was committed
- You assisted in, counseled, demanded, induced, or hired someone to commit the crime
- You acted with the intent to facilitate the crime
- You acted before the crime was committed
If you’re facing accusations of being an accomplice to a misdemeanor or felony offense in California, call a Los Angeles aiding and abetting defense attorney from Spolin Law P.C. right away.
Defending Against Aiding and Abetting Charges
When you are going up against a prosecutor who believes you aided and abetted a crime, you need a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer on your side. You are going to have to defend yourself, and you cannot simply argue that you did not commit the crime. You are not on trial for committing the actual crime. You are on trial for participating in the commission of the offense.
Your attorney may seek to show that you:
Were falsely accused.
Someone may have named you as an accomplice to a crime out of revenge or as part of a plan to conceal an actual accomplice. Your attorney may closely scrutinize the witness or informant’s information and question them on the stand.
Did not encourage, facilitate, or in any way help the person commit the crime.
Consider the robbery example. It may be that you were in the vehicle with a friend when they drove up to someone’s home late at night. You thought your friend was picking up another acquaintance. They tell you to wait there and be ready to go quickly. You are confused, but you sit in the car and wait. It is not until your friend comes running out from behind the house carrying things and yelling at you to start the car do you realize he committed a crime.
Withdrew from the criminal activity before it took place.
It is possible to be involved with a crime and then back out. You must be able to show that you withdrew from the criminal activity before the crime took place, that you notified the other people of your withdrawal, and then you strove to prevent the crime from taking place.
Facilitated the crime after the fact.
Whether you helped the commission of the crime before, during, or after it took place is important. If you only assisted in a criminal activity after it took place, then you are an accessory after the fact and not a principal. If you are an accessory after the fact, you should face a lesser charge.
If you have been accused of aiding and abetting a criminal offense, contact a Los Angeles aiding and abetting defense attorney from Spolin Law P.C. to learn more about your legal options moving forward.
Being an Accessory After the Fact Is a Different Crime
You can also face a criminal charge if you are an accessory to an offense instead of a principal.
Under Penal Code §32, you may be an accessory if, after a felony has been committed, you:
- Harbor, conceal or aid a principal
- Intending for the principal to avoid or escape arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment
- Knowing the principal has committed, been charged, or been convicted of the felony
This is called being an accessory after the fact. It is a different situation than if you are considered to have aided and abetted a criminal before or during the crime, which is called being an accessory before the fact and means you can be charged with the same underlying crime. Being an accessory after the fact typically results in lower charges and penalties than the underlying offense.
It is important that you take accusations of being an accessory seriously and call a Los Angeles aiding and abetting defense attorney right away. If you are accused of being an accessory to a serious sex crime, you face harsh penalties. Being an accessory to rape or an accessory to attempted murder can result in years in prison.
Examples of Being an Accessory After the Fact
There are many situations in which you can be accused of being an accessory to a crime. Many cases we have handled involve someone:
- Knowingly transporting a principal of a crime after the commission of a felony.
- Harboring a fugitive, which refers to knowingly helping someone hide to avoid arrest or criminal prosecution.
- Knowingly helping a principal of a felony offense move to another state or country to avoid arrest or prosecution.
- Knowingly providing the offender with money or paperwork to escape arrest or prosecution.
- Knowingly giving the police incorrect information regarding the offender’s whereabouts.
What a Prosecutor Must Prove for You to be Convicted as an Accessory
When you face charges for being an accessory after the fact, there are a number of elements the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- A felony crime was committed
- You knew the person committed a felony, or had been charged or convicted of a felony
- You helped that person with the specific intent to prevent their arrest, trial, or punishment
Contact a Los Angeles aiding and abetting defense attorney if you are facing charges for being an accessory to a criminal offense. Just because you didn’t actually commit the crime doesn’t mean you won’t face the consequences. Reach out to Spolin Law P.C. today for help.
Potential Penalties for Being an Accessory After the Fact
Based on Penal Code §33, an accessory is punishable by a fine up to $5,000, by incarceration in the county jail up for up to one year, or by a term of imprisonment defined in PC §1170(h). This means you can face 16 months, two years, or three years in a California prison.
Based on the possible statutory penalties for an accessory charge, it is a wobbler offense in California. You may face misdemeanor charges, for which you would spend no more than one year in jail. Or, you can be charged with a felony and may be punished with years in prison.
Whether or not you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony depends on the circumstances of the current case, including the underlying crime committed, your actions, and your criminal history.
Defending Against an Accessory Charge
When you are charged with being an accessory after the fact, we recommend calling a Los Angeles aiding and abetting defense attorney from our firm as soon as possible. There are several ways to defend yourself. However, you will need an experienced lawyer to carefully review your case and to determine the strongest defense strategy.
Some potential defenses to an accessory after the fact charge include:
A felony was not committed.
Your attorney may seek to prove that the crime that the other party allegedly committed was a misdemeanor.
You lacked knowledge that a felony took place.
You may have had no idea a friend, family member, or romantic partner committed a felony. For instance, you may be accused of harboring a fugitive if you let a friend stay at your place for the weekend. However, if you did not know a crime had been committed or that your friend may be wanted by the police, then you were not an accessory.
You have been falsely accused.
When it comes to criminal activity involving multiple people, it is common for various accusations to be made. A person may have accused you of a crime out of anger or a need for revenge. Or, a person may have accused you to deflect attention from themselves or to protect someone else.
You acted under duress.
You may have helped someone who you knew committed a crime, but you may not have done so willingly. Your Los Angeles aiding and abetting defense attorney may seek to show the jury that you or your loved ones were threatened, or you felt you had no choice but to do what the offender told you to do.
You have no connection to the crime.
It may be that you were a bystander and had absolutely no connection the criminal activity before, during, or after the commission of the offense.
How a Los Angeles Aiding and Abetting Defense Attorney Can Help
When you are accused of acting as an accomplice before or during a crime, or acting as an accessory after the fact, the best thing you can do for yourself is to hire an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. You are going to need someone to aggressively defend you in court.
By hiring an attorney from Spolin Law P.C., you have someone on your side who will immediately seek to get you out of jail or to avoid an arrest. Our team is highly experienced in helping our clients eliminate, reduce, or pay bail so that they can be out of jail while their cases progress.
We will immediately investigate the allegations against you. We will obtain as much evidence as possible and carefully analyze each piece if said evidence. This may give us leverage to file a PC 995 Motion to Dismiss. We may be able to argue that the charges against you should be dismissed based on a lack of evidence, a procedural issue, or another legal matter.
If the judge allows the case to move forward, we may take a number of pre-trial steps to help your case. This may include various motions, such as a motion to rule certain evidence inadmissible in court. If we believe the prosecutor will attempt to use illegally-obtained evidence, we will fight for it to be excluded at trial.
If your case is not resolved before trial, either through a dismissal or plea bargain, then we will prepare a defense on your behalf. It is the prosecutor’s burden to prove you committed the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. A Los Angeles aiding and abetting defense attorney will strive to create enough doubt that the jury must acquit you.
Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help Today
The potential consequence of an abetting and abetting or accessory after the fact charge are too serious to handle on your own or to rely on an over-worked public defender. You are going to need a criminal defense attorney who will dedicate themselves to your case. At Spolin Law P.C., we have the years of experience and knowledge necessary to defend you against these allegations.
To speak with a Los Angeles aiding and abetting defense attorney, call us at (310) 424-5816. You can also reach us online to schedule a free case consultation.