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California Penal Code 32: Accessory After the Fact Law

Douglas Parker

Are you familiar with the expression “avoid being left holding the bag”? California Penal Code (PC) 32 extends this notion to another level.

Engaging in criminal activity is one matter, however, it’s important to be aware that providing assistance to someone involved in an accessory to crime can also result in legal repercussions. This is where the law regarding being an accessory after the fact becomes applicable.

Understanding the Legal Elements of Penal Code § 32 PC

Picture a scenario where your acquaintance borrows your vehicle and becomes involved in a hit-and-run accident[1]. In this situation, you allow them to conceal the car at your residence.

If you were to find yourself in this situation, you could potentially face charges under PC 32. This statute prohibits the act of harboring, concealing, or assisting an individual whom one is aware has committed a felony crime, with the intention of enabling them to evade arrest, trial, conviction, punishment, or penalty. Therefore, a PC 32 charge necessitates the presence of four essential elements.

  • Firstly: understanding the identity of the individual who carried out the felony is essential, as knowledge holds significance and contributes to authority. Assisting hand or restricting Hand? Did you truly take any action to support them?
  • Secondly: the importance of motive. Assisting a confused friend in finding their path differs from purposefully protecting a criminal. The intention to impede justice is of utmost significance.

Is Penal Code 32 a Felony?

Certainly, the offense of Penal Code 32 in its own right constitutes a felony that carries the potential consequences of a maximum prison sentence of three years and a substantial monetary penalty. Nonetheless, the severity of these penalties may differ based on the particular underlying felony and your individual conduct.

accessory after the fact

What Does It Mean To Be An “Accessory After The Fact”?

Being an “accessory after the fact” means knowingly helping someone who committed a felony avoid arrest or punishment. This can include hiding them, lying for them, or providing them with resources to escape.

It’s not just knowing about the crime, but actively hindering justice. Remember, good intentions don’t shield you from legal consequences.

It’s also important to ask: given that you assisted your friend in concealing their vehicle, but they ultimately surrendered themselves, does this mean you are no longer held accountable? It is not always the case. It always depends on the specific circumstances, and to have a higher chance of a better outcome, the best advice is to contact a reliable attorney as soon as possible!

Principal vs. Accessory: Key Differences Under California Law

It is crucial to distinguish between a principal and an accessory[2], as your role in the premeditation or execution of a felony would determine whether you are considered a principal. Being classified as a principal could lead to facing more severe consequences, like in the scenario of accessory murder.

Nevertheless, in the event that your aid was confined to actions following a criminal act, you would be categorized as an accessory according to Penal Code 32.

What Are The Penalties For Violating Pc 32?

As mentioned earlier, California Penal Code 32 carries the possibility of a maximum imprisonment of three years and the imposition of a fine.

However, judges consider various factors such as your prior criminal history, the severity of the underlying crime, and the level of assistance you provided. There is a chance that you might face lesser repercussions, such as probation or engagement in community service[3].

Defending Against Charges Under Penal Code § 32 PC

If you happen to be charged with accessory after the fact under California Penal Code 32, there is no reason to feel alarmed! There are multiple tactics worth considering for the purpose of safeguarding oneself. Let’s examine these in more detail:

  • Lack of Knowledge: It is possible that you truly lacked awareness of your friend’s involvement in a criminal act.
  • No Felony Crime: Was it truly a felony or simply a misinterpretation?
  • No Intent: Were you merely providing innocent assistance, unaware of their unlawful actions?
  • Duress or Coercion: Did you provide assistance due to the presence of duress or coercion, where harm was threatened against you?
  • False Accusation or Mistaken Identity: Have you been falsely implicated by someone?

Can I Get A Conviction Expunged?

Under certain circumstances, it is possible to have a conviction expunged[4] from your record if you satisfy particular requirements and successfully fulfill your sentence. Engaging in this can greatly enhance your prospects for the future and increase your potential for employment.

Bear in mind: Do not underestimate the gravity of PC 32 charges. Should you find yourself in such a predicament, promptly seek advice from a legal professional. A seasoned Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can assist you in comprehending your entitlements, maneuvering through the intricate legal process, and advocating for a fair resolution.

Get  a Free Consultation

The prospect of maneuvering through the legal system can be intimidating. Seeking guidance from a seasoned lawyer is imperative to comprehend your alternatives and construct a robust defense.

At Manshoory Law Group, you have the opportunity to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION with one of our experienced attorneys, who have the ability to provide guidance if you’ve been charged with accessory after the fact, examine possible defenses, and assist you in navigating the legal proceedings!

In summary

The legislation surrounding accessory after the fact aims to emphasize that even apparently harmless behaviors can result in legal ramifications. Although it is understandable to desire to assist those close to us, acquainting oneself with the law and seeking legal counsel can safeguard against inadvertently becoming involved in another person’s unlawful actions.