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When someone in the Los Angeles provides some type of assistance to those committing a crime, they are guilty of breaking a law known as aiding and abetting. It is covered in California Penal Code Section 31. It is when a person aids or abets individuals involved in the commission of a crime. They may have advised or encouraged the commission of the crime. This makes them involved as principals in any crime where they are found guilty of aiding and abetting.
The legal definition of aiding and abetting in California gives criminal liability to any individual who helps, aids or facilitates the commission of a crime. This definition covers misdemeanor as well as felony crimes. Accomplice liability is also considered aiding and abetting and is not a separate crime. The state of California is able to prosecute all individuals involved in the commission of a crime even if they did not directly participate in the criminal activity.
Elements Of Aiding And Abetting
A prosecutor needs to prove a defendant did act, encourage, aid as well as promote the commission of a crime. It must be shown that the defendant’s goal was to intentionally facilitate or encourage criminal activity. A person can be identified as an accessory before the fact. This is a person who aided in the planning or inspired committing a crime prior to it occurring. A person can be considered an accomplice when they actively participate in the commission of a crime but not the actual criminal offense. This could happen when a person drives a getaway car and more.
When a person is charged with aiding and abetting, a prosecutor will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt; the defendant had knowledge the perpetrator had the intention to commit a crime. The defendant had the intention to assist, aid or encourage the perpetrator before or during the crime taking place. The conduct of a defendant did encourage as well as aid and abet a perpetrator during the criminal activity. The way a prosecutor will determine if someone is an accessory or a principal is if the defendant independently made a contribution to the crime directly or indirectly as well as encourage and provide limited assistance.
When a person is found guilty of aiding and abetting, they usually receive the same punishment as the perpetrators of the crime. In some situations, if the crime involves a homicide, the person found guilty of aiding and abetting will have even more liability than the person who committed the homicide. If a person is found guilty of aiding and abetting after a crime has been committed, with the intent of helping them avoid being arrested and prosecuted, they can be charged as an accessory after the fact. Depending on a person’s criminal history, they could be fined up to $5,000 and sentenced to a year in a California state prison for a misdemeanor. They could spend up to three years in jail for a felony.
A person did not instigate, encourage or aid the commission of a crime. Their participation is misinterpreted. It is possible a defendant was forced against their will to assist someone committing a crime. This could result from a threat of bodily injury or death to the defendant or a person close to them. It’s also possible a defendant was charged because of a false accusation by the perpetrator. A defendant may have no duty to act. In most situations, if a defendant knows a crime is going to be committed or is present when it happens, it does not mean they have an obligation to prevent it.
When a person is accused of aiding and abetting, they need to know their legal rights. This is a time to speak with an experienced attorney and get a legal professional’s understanding of the situation.