Are you facing criminal allegations of aiding and abetting in violation of California Penal Code Section 31?
In simple terms, “aiding and abetting” means you are facing allegations that you helped someone commit a crime. Even in a situation where you didn't take an active role in the committing the crime, a criminal charge of aiding and abetting could be filed against you for providing assistance to someone committing a crime.
Aiding and abetting is covered under California Penal Code Section 31. In basic terms, aiding and abetting means to assist another individual in the commission of a crime, or to promote its accomplishment. In the state of California, aiding and abetting is not crime by itself, but a legal rule allowing a Los Angeles County prosecutor to file criminal charges against everyone who participated in the commission of a crime. This means someone could face criminal charges even if they didn't actually commit the offense themselves. By law, any person who aids or abets a crime is guilty of that offense even if another individual committed some, or even all of the criminal acts. Therefore, “aiding and abetting” essentially means helping another commit a crime, even if there was no direct participation in the actual crime. Aiding and abetting is commonly known as being an accomplice, meaning the act of being criminally complicit. The legal theory for a prosecutor is that if someone helped another commit a crime, they are equally guilty as the person who actually did the physical act to commit the crime. A common example in Los Angeles County includes a situation where two people commit a robbery at a liquor store. One person enters the store, pulls out a weapon, and demands all the money from the cash register. During this robbery, the other person stands outside acting as a lookout. In this example, both people could be equally held criminally liable for the armed robbery. Why? The person acting as a lookout provided assistance in committing a crime. However, the LA County prosecutor would need to be able to prove the lookout knew their partner possessed a weapon and planned to commit robbery. Aiding and abetting is typically used in cases where the prosecutor wants to file charges against someone for a serious or violent crime criminal offense.
If you are facing criminal allegations of aiding and abetting, you need to remain silent and not give any statements to police detectives. If contacted by law enforcement, just politely decline to provide a statement until you have had a chance to consult with a lawyer. You must remember that any incriminating statements will be used against you later. Don't help the police and prosecutors convict you. Instead, consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at Eisner Gorin LLP. Let our experienced lawyers thoroughly review all the facts and circumstances of your case in order to develop an effective strategy moving forward. Let's take a closer look at the legal definition, legal penalties, and potential defenses below.
Aiding and Abetting - California Penal Code Section 31
Under California Penal Code Section 31, aiding and abetting is legally defined as follows:
As stated above, this means you can be held criminally liable if you facilitate or aid another person in the commission of a crime. It also means you could also potentially face the same exact legal penalties as the individual who directly committed the crime. There is no legal requirement to have a prior agreement with the other person to commit the crime. In fact, you could be charged with aiding and abetting just for your voluntary involvement or providing some type of assistance in the commission of the criminal offense. The legal language of “aid and abet in its commission” simply means you are being accused of being an accomplice to the crime, other than direct perpetrator. Keep in mind that just being a witness of a crime in progress does NOT mean you were aiding and abetting. Contact our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm for additional information.
Aiding and Abetting – Elements of the Crime
In order to prove you are guilty of a crime based on aiding and abetting, the Los Angeles County prosecutor must be able to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, all the following elements of the crime:
- A perpetrator committed a criminal offense;
- You knew the perpetrator intended to commit the criminal offense;
- Before or during the commission of the criminal offense, you had intent to aid and abet the perpetrator in committing the crime; and
- Your conduct or words did provide aid to the perpetrator's commission of the criminal offense.
It's important to note here you don't have to be physically present at the scene of the criminal offense to be convicted of aiding and abetting. The main question is whether you in any way, either directly or indirectly, provided some type of aid to the perpetrator in the form of encouragement or actions.
Aiding and Abetting – Legal Penalties
Under California law, the legal penalties for the convicted aider and abettor are the same as the legal penalties for the perpetrator. For example, in a murder case, if the perpetrator acted with premeditation and deliberation and facing a life in prison sentence, then the person who aided and abetted is also subjected to a life sentence in a California state prison. As you can see, there is no individual distinction between and aider and abettor and the actual perpetrator. Call our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys for further review.
Aiding and Abetting – Legal Defenses
An experienced Los Angles criminal defense lawyer at our law firm could use a variety of legal defense strategies against allegations that you assisted in the commission of a crime. These defenses include:
No Participation – In some cases, our criminal lawyers may be able to prove you did nothing to encourage, aid, or facilitate in the commission of the crime. If successful, you can't be found guilty of aiding and abetting. For example, maybe you were only a passenger in car with some friends when the driver stops and commits robbery on a convenience store while you remained in the car. It's possible you had no prior knowledge of their plan to rob the store and did nothing to help them commit the robbery. You could have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Being simply present is not sufficient to prove criminal intent.
Withdraw From Participation – In some cases, our criminal attorneys might be able to prove you withdrew from participating in the criminal offense. This would include a situation where you told the perpetrator you were not going to assist them and did everything within your power to prevent the criminal offense from occurring.
Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal allegations of aiding and abetting, call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Eisner Gorin LLP. When you speak with our attorneys, we will review all facts and circumstances in order to craft a proper defense. We strive to make sure our clients leave our initial meeting with an idea of a legal strategy moving forward. Our criminal lawyers have decades of combined experience in criminal law and have the legal skills to defend you against aiding and abetting charges. We are also expert courtroom negotiators and will aggressively work to obtain the best possible out come on your case. We provide a free immediate response. Call our criminal law firm at 877-781-1570.