Being charged with accessory to a crime means that you were involved in assisting a criminal during or after a crime. To be charged, you must know that the criminal was committing a crime and helped them during or after the criminal act. This type of criminal offense usually applies to felony acts.
Under California Penal Code § 32 PC, a person is considered an accessory to a crime if they harbor, conceal, or aid another individual in committing a felony with the intent that the person they are assisting will avoid or escape arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment. The statute also states that the party that is the accessory to the crime must know that the person they are helping was committing a crime.
Accessory Before the Fact
You can be charged with accessory before the fact if you help someone prior to the commission of a crime. Although you might not have directly participated in the alleged crime, you can face serious consequences if your assistance is related in any way to the crime. Common examples of accessory before the fact include helping another person plan a crime, providing resources to execute a crime, and providing shelter to a person planning a criminal act.
Accessory After the Fact
You can face charges for accessory after the fact if you help a person after the commission of a crime or assist them in any way that impedes their apprehension or prosecution. For example, helping someone dispose of incriminating evidence or harboring someone you know is wanted for a crime. Withholding incriminating information and intentionally misleading law enforcement officials to assist a guilty party can also result in accessory after the fact charges.
Penalties for Being an Accessory to a Crime
Prosecutors have the option of charging this type of crime as either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the nature and extent of involvement in the criminal act. As a misdemeanor, you can face up to one year in county jail If you are convicted of being an accessory to a crime. As a felony, you can face up to three years in jail or state prison and fines.
We Can Help You Fight Back Against Your Criminal Charges
If you or a loved one is facing charges in California for being an accessory to a crime, then do not underestimate the damage that a conviction can have on the rest of your life. Our team of skilled criminal defense lawyers is committed to using our extensive resources and knowledge of the law to make sure your case is properly handled. Don't make the mistake of not protecting yourself legally because you think the charges are not serious. Let us vigorously fight for you!
To schedule a case consultation with Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, please call our firm today at (800) 462-7160 or contact us online.