What is an accessory after the fact? Someone can be charged as an accessory after a crime if they aid or assist the individual who committed a crime under California Penal Code 32. To get somebody for an accessory after the fact, the prosecutors will have to be able to prove that the original perpetrator committed a felony.
Then the person charged with accessory after the fact hid that person or aided that person sometime after the crime was committed. If they can prove these things, they can charge them with accessory after the fact, and the person could be looking at a felony and time in prison or county jail.
To properly evaluate whether you should be charged with accessory after the fact or whether the case should be dismissed, you need to meet with a criminal defense attorney who has handled these cases and understands the concepts that make a person guilty of accessory after the fact versus the images of the chain of causation being broken and the person not aiding or helping an individual who committed a felony.
Another significant issue is whether or not the person who is supposedly is aiding or helping is an accessory after the fact, whether that person knows that the perpetrator of the original crime committed a crime. If the person lets him in the house, for example, but has no idea whether or not they committed a crime, they obviously cannot be guilty of the crime to accessory after the fact. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will explain further below.
Legal Defenses for Accessory After the Fact – PC 32
To defend an accessory after the fact case, you will have to be able to argue that you had no idea that the person they are claiming you helped committed any felony offense. Another argument is that you were under a stressful situation and felt compelled or threatened to help the person. Sometimes, you're at your home, in your car – you're somewhere, and you mind your own business – and somebody puts you in a challenging position because they've committed a crime, and now they're asking you to help them.
If that person is armed with a weapon or is acting strangely and you feel threatened, just because you helped them doesn't necessarily mean that you should be charged and convicted of accessory after the fact. So, several different defenses can be utilized in this accessory after the fact case, but it will spin and be determined on the facts of your particular case.
Not all cases are the same, so you have to sit down with an attorney. Give them all the information related to your case without omitting anything or putting any spin on it, and let them help you determine whether or not they've got a good case against you or not.
Best Strategy if You're Charged?
Your best strategy is to sit down with a criminal defense attorney who has handled these cases and had a successful result. Also, if your attorney knows a local courthouse where the issue is pending, has dealt with the judges there, the prosecutors there, and knows and understands their tendencies on these cases, that would put you at a considerable advantage.
Suppose there are issues with the prosecutors proving the accessory after the fact case many times. If these cases can't be dismissed, they may be able to be mitigated down to a lesser charge, get you probation, see if you can earn a misdemeanor in the case, and at some point, get the matter off your record.
To put yourself in the best position to get your matter dismissed or mitigated down to something less, you will need to assist your attorney with getting character letters and giving your version of events.
Often, the police do not get your story about this after-the-fact accessory case, and it's up to your criminal defense attorney to give them all that information. To properly do that, you're going to have to provide them with information – let them know what happened so they can adequately represent you and get you out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible.