Aiding an individual who has engaged in unlawful activity in certain manners could lead to facing charges for the criminal offense known as being an accessory to a crime. There can be two categories of accessory to a crime:
Accessory before the fact, which involves assisting another person before they carry out a murder or crime. This might entail purchasing a firearm for someone with the awareness that it will be used to inflict harm on another individual.
Accessory after the fact, which involves supporting another person after they commit a crime. For instance, this could involve providing transportation in a getaway vehicle following the killing.
What is an Accessory After The Fact
Supporting and assisting a convicted felon or someone facing felony charges is unlawful. The reality is that if you engaged in certain illegal activities you could be charged as an accessory after the fact in California. Now, you have created legal troubles for yourself. The law is not concerned with your relationship and bond with the person you helped protect from their legal obligations. Being an accessory after the fact puts you in the crosshairs of the law.
There are several reasons a person may offer aid to another person who is facing arrest, has a court date, or was convicted of a crime. When it comes to those that you care for and love, if their future is grave due to their legal situation, you may be motivated to help them in some way in an attempt to keep them from having to endure a harsh penalty. And, while your intentions may be earnest, if you shelter, conceal, or otherwise aid a felon, this is a crime in the state of California. The crime is known as “accessory after the fact.”
If you were arrested for being an accessory after the fact, you might be confused about what your charges are and what they mean for your future. In this situation, you need experienced and seasoned legal counsel to help you with your case. The Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Manshoory Law Group can meet with you and discuss your legal predicament. It is possible to fight your charges to secure the best possible outcome, and an attorney at Manshoory Law Group is ready and prepared to build and execute the right defense strategy.
What are the Penalties for Accessory After The Fact?
It may seem like harboring someone or doing something that shields them from seeing through with their legal responsibilities is not too big of a deal. You may think this, especially if your actions were out of love for the individual that you took into your custody. The reality is that being an accessory after the fact in California means you could be facing a felony offense.
Accessory after the fact is a wobbler crime. What this means is that the prosecutor can charge you with either a misdemeanor or felony offense at their own discretion. What they will do is look at both your background and the details of the actual, alleged crime to help them figure out which level should be charged.
In fact, if an individual assists in the death of another person but is not physically there when the homicide takes place, they may face charges as an “accessory to murder“., which is a felony charge in California.
Misdemeanor charges can lead to a sentence of county jail for as long as one year and as high as a $5,000 fine. On the other hand, a felony charge could come with up to three years in state prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Examples of Being an Accessory After The Fact
There are several ways that your actions could be seen as violating the law and fall under the accessory after the fact crime umbrella. Some of the most common examples of what it means to be charged with accessory to murder include:
- Any way you assist a felon to escape an impending arrest.
- Lying about the whereabouts of another party who committed a felony crime by providing an untrue alibi.
- Being the driver of a car that flees the scene of a felony crime.
- Hiding someone who allegedly committed a felony offense in your house while law enforcement is looking for them.
What Does the Prosecution Have to Prove To Get a Conviction?
When you are on trial for a criminal offense, you must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction to ensue. So it is the burden of the prosecution to show that there is no conceivable way that you could be innocent of your charges. For the prosecution to have success with an accessory after the fact charge, they must prove the following four elements were true:
- The individual who was alleged to have been protected and concealed was actually guilty of a felony offense or actively facing felony charges.
- You had knowledge of the felony charges or the conviction of the individual in question.
- Despite knowing about a person’s felony situation, you still actively tried to hide or aid them.
- Your actions were a direct result of the individual’s legal situation, and you were trying to help them evade their trial or punishment.
Defenses for Accessory After The Fact
There may be several legal defense strategies at your disposal that can help you beat your charges. If certain factors and details in your case can be proven, then you may be able to have your charges dropped.
Examples of defense approaches for overcoming accessory to a crime or accessory of murder charges may include:
- You did not engage in certain actions as a way to help an individual that committed a felony crime avoid penalty because you did not know that they committed a felony crime in the first place. You were completely unaware of their criminality, and so your actions were not intentional concerning shielding the individual from harm.
- You were in a precarious situation at the time where you harbored the individual who committed a felony crime because you were being intimidated and under duress. You feared for your life and your own safety, so you felt forced to aid the felon.
- You took no willful action to harbor or aid a felon; you were simply a bystander who was around during the time that the felon was trying to hide themself.
Your attorney at Manshoory Law Group will do a comprehensive review of your unique situation to determine the best plan for defending you against the most severe outcomes.
Is Expungement Possible for Accessory to a Crime?
Expungement is the process of having one’s criminal record either sealed or erased. Expungement is ideal- when it is possible – because it gives a person a new lease on life without a criminal record. Essentially expungement means that the criminal conviction has been removed from one’s background.
It is never ideal to have a criminal record, no matter what the charges are. This is why it is not uncommon to want to know if there are any options for clearing one’s record so it does not adversely impact the rest of their life. In the case of an accessory to a crime conviction, expungement may be possible.
Accessory after-the-fact charged and convicted at the misdemeanor level has the potential for expungement. It is necessary that for any chance of getting your conviction expunged, you must have finished your jail or probation sentence.
Felony convictions where probation is the sentence can also possibly be eligible for expungement. But charges for accessory to murder may not always be expunged. Sentences that impose state prison for accessory after the fact, though, will not be eligible for expungement. When a state prison results, there is no possibility within the law for expungement.
Call an Attorney At Manshoory Law Group Today
When you are facing criminal charges that could lead to prison time and costly fines, as well as the establishment of a criminal record, then it is imperative that you have the best legal counsel and representation. In California, the Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Manshoory Law Group have the background and experience to help you secure results.
Contact an attorney at Manshoory Law Group to have the peace of mind that your attorney is entirely and wholeheartedly committed to helping you overcome your charges and get the ideal outcome. The team at Manshoory Law Group solely concentrates on criminal defense, so our team is laser-focused and not distracted by trying to engage in many other different areas of the law.
For all your questions and to have your case evaluated by a seasoned criminal defense attorney during a free consultation, please call Manshoory Law Group today at (877) 977-7750.