It is illegal to help another person before, during, or after the commission of a crime in Los Angeles. If you act as an accomplice you can face criminal charges for aiding and abetting. The consequences for criminal accomplices in California can be quite harsh. You’ll face the penalties for whatever crime you helped another person commit. If you helped someone commit a felony, you’ll face charges for that felony.
It’s important to seek legal assistance if you are facing criminal charges for aiding and abetting. At The Rodriguez Law Group, our attorneys have experience both prosecuting and defending criminal cases. This experience provides us with an in-depth and unparalleled understanding of criminal law and procedure in the state. We use our unique perspective and experience to help our clients achieve the best possible results in their criminal cases. Contact our Los Angeles aiding and abetting defense lawyers to schedule your free consultation today.
Aiding and Abetting
In California, it is a crime to help another person commit a crime in any way. California Penal Code §31 PC explains that any person “concerned the commission of a crime” will be considered a “principal” offender. This essentially means that if you contribute to the commission of a crime in any way you will be treated as if you committed that crime yourself. However, rather than being charged with the crime you assisted, you’ll be charged as an accessory. You’ll still face whatever penalties are appropriate for the underlying crime.
Actions Rising to Aiding and Abetting
Penal Code 31 PC states that any person “concerned” in the commission of a crime “whether they directly commit the act…or and abet in its commission” will be considered a principal offender. What behaviors or actions classify as “aiding or abetting” in California? You will be considered to have aided and abetted if you knowingly and successfully:
- Encourage, or
- Instigate a crime.
Examples of aiding and abetting can include:
- Driving a getaway car
- Helping someone secure tools, weapons, or information to commit a crime
- Standing guard as a lookout
- Hiding evidence of a crime, and
- Providing a false alibi for someone you know has committed a crime.
Any action or behavior that helps another person commit a crime can be considered unlawful behavior under Penal Code 31 PC.
Elements of Aiding and Abetting
If you’ve been charged with aiding and abetting a crime, the state will have to show that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to do this, they must prove:
- You had knowledge of the perpetrator’s unlawful purpose;
- You acted with the intent or purpose of aiding or abetting the crime; and
- The actually provided some helpful assistance.
You can only be guilty of aiding and abetting if you had knowledge that another person intended to commit a crime. You must have had this knowledge before you provided any assistance, encouragement, or help. However, if you obtain knowledge of a crime after the fact, and fail to disclose that information to authorities, you may be considered an accessory after the fact.
You must share the perpetrator’s intent to commit an unlawful act. You cannot aid and abet a crime if you lacked the conscious intent and purpose to commit the crime. The state must also prove that you gave assistance willingly and without the undue influence of another person.
The state will also have to prove that you actually helped the perpetrator in some way. You don’t necessarily have to be present when the crime is committed to aid and abet. Penal Code 31 PC simply requires that you “directly or indirectly aided the perpetrator by acts or encouraged him by words or gestures” in some way.
This could include helping with planning, offering confidential information, providing a false alibi, or lending a helpful hand in any other capacity. Many factors will go into determining whether or not you aided or abetted a crime, including:
- Your relationship with the perpetrator
- Communication with the perpetrator before, during, and/or after the crime, and
- Your location and behavior at the time of the crime.
You cannot be convicted of aiding and abetting if the state cannot prove each element of the crime.
Penalties for Aiding and Abetting
If you help another person commit a crime, be prepared to face the consequences for that specific offense. Penal Code 31 PC states that any person who is “concerned in the commission of a crime” whether you commit it directly or help, will be subject to the penalties for that crime.
So, if you help someone commit misdemeanor petty theft, you will face the penalties applicable for that crime. As a result of aiding the crime, you could face 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and/or probation.
On the other hand, if you help someone commit a residential burglary, you will face the penalties applicable for that felony offense. As a result of aiding the crime, you could face up to six years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and/or felony probation.
The more serious the crime, the harsher the consequences.
Defenses to Aiding and Abetting
You have the right to defend yourself whenever you are accused of committing a crime in Los Angeles. Any defense you assert should help to cast doubt on your guilt. Defenses can also be used to explain, excuse, or even justify your alleged behavior.
Defenses that may be helpful in a case involving aiding and abetting include:
- You did not know the other person was going to commit a crime
- You did not share the other person’s purpose and intent to commit a crime
- You did not offer assistance willingly or knowingly
- You have been falsely accused, and
- You offered no assistance that actually aided in the commission of the crime.
Have the police or state prosecutors violated your rights in some way? If you were the victim of an illegal search or arrest, or if you were prevented from speaking with an attorney at your request, you can also raise Constitutional defenses. Our attorneys will fight to have any evidence obtained in violation of your rights excluded from your case.
Call Our Los Angeles Aiding and Abetting Attorneys Today
It’s dangerous to help another person commit a crime. Even though you’re only an accomplice, you can still face very harsh criminal penalties for your conduct. In fact, you’ll face whatever penalties are applicable to the underlying crime itself. If that was a felony, you’ll face felony criminal consequences. In addition to serious jail time and fines, you’ll also be burdened with a felony criminal record. A felony record will affect every aspect of your life for years to come. It’s critical to defend yourself when you are charged with a crime.
Hiring an attorney is the best thing you can do to protect your future. Contact The Rodriguez Law Group to schedule a free consultation with our Los Angeles aiding and abetting attorneys today. We’ll review your case and help you understand the process that is about to unfold.