March 24, 2020 3:20 pm Published by

Aiding and abetting is a legal theory as to how prosecutors can capture additional suspects in a criminal case, beyond the principal actor. For instance, in a bar fight, two people attack two other people and one person hits someone with a bottle, cutting their eye.

The man is charged with assault with a deadly weapon. His friend, who fought along with him, is charged with the same, as an aider and abettor. If you’re fighting two other people and they agree to mutual combat, you might have a self-defense argument.

The issue is going to be, however, whether someone should have armed themselves with a bottle in that scenario. Is that reasonable, under the circumstances? The crime of “aiding and abetting” is defined under California Penal Code 31.

This statute states: “All people concerned in the commission of a crime, whether a felony or misdemeanor and whether they directly commit the offense, or aid and abet in its commission, or not being present, advised and encouraged its commission, and all people counseling, or encouraging children under the age of fourteen years, or people mentally incapacitated, to commit a crime, or by fraud, contrivance, or force another for the purpose of causing him to commit any crime, or who by threats, menaces, command, or coercion, compel another to commit any crime, are principals in any crime committed.”

Penalties for Penal Code 31 Aiding And Abetting

The penalties you face depend on which crime you’re aiding and abetting (CALCRIM 401). If you’re aiding and abetting someone who is shooting a weapon at people, you’re looking at being charged with attempted murder and receiving 15 years to life in prison.Aiding and Abetting in California – Penal Code 31

Aiding and abetting itself is not a crime (CALCRIM 400). It is a theory by which the prosecutor can capture people for other crimes.

If you’re helping another person commit a crime, then you’re going to be responsible for that crime, just as much as they are.

If another person shoots someone while robbing a gas station with a gun and you are the getaway driver, you are going to be responsible for that murder as well, as an aider and abettor (CALCRIM 1603).

What If My Criminal Case Involves Other Defendants?

It would be much too difficult for prosecutors to try multiple defendants separately. If you’re involved in a crime with someone else, you’re both going to be arrested and prosecuted at the same time.

A lot of times, they make offers to settle the co-defendant cases with a package deal, meaning both defendants have to take the offer or nobody gets the deal. The reason they do that is because it can be difficult to determine who is responsible.

Maybe they don’t have all the information, so they don’t want to be in a position where one person pleads guilty and then that person comes back and tries to help the other person by taking responsibility.

Once they have been punished, they don’t really have anything to lose. Prosecutors are going to make sure that they get both people at the same time or that they make both people go to trial.

Statute of Limitations on An Aiding And Abetting

The statute of limitations depends on what the substantive crime is. The statute of limitations for robbery is what will apply when you’re an aider and abettor to a robbery.

You’re going to face the same statute of limitations as the person who committed the crime along with you. The statute of limitations will dictate how long the prosecutors have to charge a particular crime.

Most times, prosecutors are going to charge the case within a year of the commission of the offense.

After one year, the defense may have an argument that too much time has passed; memories have fade and witnesses are no longer available to challenge the prosecution’s case.

There are occasions where the defense can argue that they can no longer defend the case. There are no witnesses available or for any witnesses who might be available, their memories have faded because of the passage of time.

Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0940.

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