Accessory After the Fact Crimes: Law & Defense
California Penal Code 32
To be an accessory after the fact means to be someone who who either harbored, concealed, or aided a person who committed a crime with the intent that the person who committed the crime avoid arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment.
The law on the crime of accessory after the fact is found at California penal code section 32.
In general, a person is not guilty of being an accessory after the fact to crime simply because the person knows that a crime occurred and does not report the crime to the police. However, if a person gives a false alibi for someone who committed a crime then the person who gave the false alibi may properly be charged with accessory after the fact under PC 32.
Also, a person who is not aware of any criminal activity but nevertheless innocently aids another person who committed a crime is not criminally liable under PC 32. (See examples)
Example: If a fugitive is renting a room in a person's home and the homeowner is not aware of the fugitive's status as a fugitive then the renter is not liable as an accessory under PC 32.
To be an accessory after the fact is not the same as being an aider and abettor to crime under PC 32. To be an aider and abettor to a crime means that the defendant actually assisted in committing a crime before, or during, the criminal conduct.
For example: If a person arranges for a hideout for a defendant before the defendant commits a crime then the person is liable as an aider and abettor to the crime. However, if the person arranges for a hideout for a defendant only after the defendant commits a crime, and the person did not know that the defendant was going to commit a crime, then the person is liable as an accessory after the fact only (PC 32).
Punishment for PC 32
According to PC 32, the crime of accessory after the fact may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If found guilty of accessory after the fact as a misdemeanor the defendant may be sentenced up to a year in county jail. If the defendant is found guilty of accessory after the fact as a felony the defendant could face up to three years in prison.
In addition to any possible jail or prison sentences, if found guilty of accessory after the fact under PC 32, the defendant may be punished with harsh probation terms, insurmountable fines, immigration consequences (for non-U.S. citizens), employment restrictions, and more.
PC 32 is not considered a strike offense as the crime is not a serious or violent offense as defined by California's Three Strikes Law. If found guilty, the defendant may be granted probation as opposed to jail or prison. Whether or not a probation sentence is available depends largely on the circumstances of the case as well as the defendant's criminal history.
Defense to PC 32
Common defenses to penal code 32 includes: statute of limitations, mistake of fact, coerced confessions, duress, lack of jurisdiction, and more.
If you have been charged with accessory after the fact under California penal code 32 call criminal defense attorney Christopher Dorado without delay.
Criminal defense attorney Christopher Dorado will patiently explain to you your rights and possible penalties according under PC 32. There is no charge for an in-office initial consultation and our office available 7 days a week for your convenience. Call today!
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