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California Penal Code Section 32 –Consequences of Being an Accessory After the Fact

Jul 25, 2022 | Accessory After the Fact

Being an accessory after the fact is illegal under Penal Code 32 PC. Its definition is knowingly harboring, concealing, or assisting a felon in order to keep them from being under the arrest. This is a crime that carries a maximum sentence of three years in state prison.

Who is an “Accessory After the Fact” Under Section 32 of the California Penal Code?

Under the legal regulations, accessory after the fact means the person who “harbored, concealed or aided” the person who committed the felony to assist him to escape punishment.

As a result, the presence of the following factors must be present in order to understand when one can be guilty for committing this violation:

  • A felony shall be committed- a person cannot be convicted in case of a misdemeanor
  • The person knowingly should assist the individual who committed the crime
  • The person should have the intention to protect the individual from punishment
  • The assistance should be provided after the commitment of the fact

Examples of Assistance to the Perpetrator

Let’s examine the following situation. In case you hide me in your house after I come and announce that I killed my colleague and lie to the police the next day that you have not seen me,  you shall violate Section 32 of the California Penal Code. Other violation will be if you hide the gun by which I shot my colleague.

Thus, hiding and/or destroying evidence, concealing the criminal, providing a false alibi, or any other assistance, are examples of actions that an “accessory after the fact” can commit.

Difference Between Section 32 and Aiding or Abetting the Crime.

Aider or abettor of the crime is one who participates in the crime with the perpetrator. Let’s examine the following situation. You can aider/abettor of the crime if me and you made a pact to murder a third person and you gave me a ride and also gave me the instrument of the crime. The distinction is that you were aware of the crime and had a role to play in it. In the case of Section 32 you became aware of the murder after it had occurred and aided me afterward.

Can a Person Who Failed to Reveal the Crime Also be Considered an Accessory After the Fact?

Failure to reveal the crime generally means refusing to give any information about the crime. For example, in case  you  did not assist me the evening when I committed the crime of killing my colleague, and in the morning refused to tell anything about the crime to the police, this will not mean that you violated Section 32. Even if you were a witness of the crime and failed to speak about it this does not make you a perpetrator-you will be a mere bystander.

Thus, while failing to provide any information has no negative implications, in order to be guilty, a person must knowingly help the criminal after the latter has violated the law.

Punishment for the Crime

A prosecutor has the option of charging the accessory after the fact with either a felony or a misdemeanor. Depending on the details of the case and the individual’s criminal background. In both circumstances, the maximum penalties is $5,000. If the violation is a crime, you can spend up to three years in state prison. If you commit a misdemeanor, you can spend up to a year in a country jail.

Glendale Attorneys

In case you or your friend have been convicted for violation of the above mentioned legal regulations, then you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our Glendale personal injury lawyer today for a consultation and case review. Please feel free to give our office a call at 310-933-5171.