One are of the law that Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers find difficult to educate people about is accessory. Being an accessory to a crime, whether a violent crime, a theft crime or other type, in Los Angeles can happen without much effort. If the police want to charge you, they may not have too difficult of a time doing so, and without a qualified Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer by your side, you may be left at the mercy of the Los Angeles Police Department.
You do not have to actually commit a crime in order to be implicated in it. New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma is finding this out the hard way as a New York-area condominium he owns has recently become the epicenter of a double murder investigation. Police investigating the murders believe two Liberian immigrants, Ansu Keita and Sekou Sakor, were shot in the head while at Vilmas condominium in late March for their connection with a "black paper" scheme. Police have stated that Vilma is not in any way considered a suspect in the murders and is giving investigators information as to who may have had access to his property. Vilma himself had not been in the condominium since January of 2008 and had been trying to sell the property. Only Vilmas real estate agent and a few members of the football players family are believed to have had access to the property.
Neighbors reported hearing gunshots late one night, but by the time they arrived at 10 oclock the next morning, New York City police had already found the bodies at separate sites in Queens and Brooklyn.
For a person to be charged as an accessory to any crime, investigators must prove that a suspect knew that a crime had been, or would be, committed. Most jurisdictions distinguish this from an accomplice, who is generally present at the time the crime is committed and participates in some capacity.
In Los Angeles, an accessory to a crime may help or encourage the actual criminal in some way, fail to report the crime to law enforcement, or attempt to help the criminal conceal the crime. In Vilmas case, for example, if he had known a crime was going to be committed and did nothing to stop it (or report it to the police after the fact), he could be considered an accessory to the murders.
Since Vilma had not been to the condominium in over a year and was trying to sell it, this is most likely not the case. Being charged as an accessory to a crime is still a serious offense and punishments will vary depending on the crime committed and the severity of the damage. People can be accessories to murder, robberies, arson, blackmail or any number of criminal offenses. In most cases, someone charged as an accessory to a crime can be given the same punishment as the person who actually committed the crime. For some people, getting caught up in bad situations is an all-too ugly reality. Do not think that just because you didnt actually commit a criminal offense that you are safe.
If you were in any way involved in a crime, you need a strong Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to fight for you. If you or someone you know has been accused of being an accessory to a crime, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today. Their combined 50 years of courtroom experience could help you avoid a criminal conviction.
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Eisner Gorin LLP has been recognized as one of the best U.S. law firms, based on the experience, professionalism, and ethics of its criminal defense lawyers and attorneys. We aggressively defend clients in all Southern California courtrooms on state and federal charges, including DUI, DMV, misdemeanor, felony, juvenile cases, in the following communities and courthouses.