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When Can You Be Charged as An Accessory After the Fact?

November 2, 2019

Hiding or helping a person that you know has committed a felony may lead to this charge

When Can You Be Charged as An Accessory After the Fact?

You may think that you can only be charged with a crime if you actually…commit a crime, like bank robbery. But there are a number of California laws that are designed to penalize individuals who may participate in a crime in other ways — including after it takes place.

According to a criminal defense lawyer Orange County, CA, you can be charged as an accessory after the fact if you harbor, conceal or aid a person whom you know has committed a felony in order to protect them from arrest, trial, conviction and/or sentencing. For example, your boyfriend drives drunk and crashes his car into another vehicle, causing serious injury to the other driver. He takes an Uber to your house. A short time later, the police arrive, looking for him — having found his wrecked car and tracking his possible locations. If you lie and say that you don’t know where he is, delaying his apprehension (and potentially preventing the police from gathering evidence that he was driving under the influence), then you could be charged with being an accessory after the fact.

An accessory after the fact help a person after they have committed a felony by either aiding in their escape from arrest, trial, conviction, and/or punishment. Because they don’t share the same criminal intent as the person who committed the crime, the potential punishment for this offense is not as severe. This crime is charged whenever:

  1. Someone committed a felony (NOT a misdemeanor);
  2. The person knowingly harbored, concealed or aided that individual;
  3. Knowing that he/she had: (a) committed the felony, (b) was charged with the felony, or (c) was convicted f the felony; and
  4. In order to protect him or her from arrest, trial, conviction and/or sentencing.

Importantly, if you knew about the plan beforehand, then you won’t be charged as an accessory after the fact. Instead, you may be charged with aiding and abetting or even as a co-conspirator in the crime.

There are a number of ways that a prosecutor may demonstrate that a person was an accessory after the fact. According to a criminal defense lawyer Orange County, CA, the prosecutor may argue that the defendant’s close relationship with the perpetrator is a key factor in the crime.

You may be charged with being an accessory after the fact for doing any number of acts. This includes lying to the police, destroying evidence, helping someone flee the scene of a crime, or hiding a perpetrator. However, it is important to remember that this crime is only charged when the offense committed was a felony — not a misdemeanor.

Accessory after the fact is a wobbler, which means that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of the case and/or the defendant’s criminal history. It is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 1 year in county jail for a misdemeanor, and between 16 months and 3 years in state prison for a felony.

If you have been charged with being an accessory after the fact or any other crime, the Chambers Law Firm is here for you. We will aggressively advocate for your rights and your freedom. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free initial consultation with a skilled criminal defense lawyer Orange County, CA.

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