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Accessory after the fact in CA

When one person commits a felony, and another person helps them to evade or escape from law enforcement, the second person can be found guilty of being an accessory after the fact. This is based on Section 32 of the California Penal Code.

What defines “accessory”?

The second person must have known that the first person committed, was charged with or was convicted of a felony.  If this is the case, that individual may require the help of a professional bail bondsman. Then they must have hidden or otherwise aided the perpetrator, and intended that the perpetrator avoid arrest, conviction or punishment for committing the felony. A person cannot be an accessory after the fact if no felony was committed. Accessories after the fact are deemed to be less criminally culpable than their principals since they didn’t plan or participate in the commission of the underlying crime. Because of this, their punishment isn’t as severe.

An accessory after the fact might be somebody who hides the perpetrator, destroys evidence or otherwise misleads law enforcement about the perpetrator. The accessory after the fact must have had prior knowledge of the commission of the felony. They can’t be convicted of the offense if they didn’t know that a felony was committed. They can’t be convicted of being an accessory after the fact if they refuse to give incriminating information to police about a principal to a crime. Constitutional 5th Amendment considerations afford this protection. If one lies, such as providing false whereabouts of the principal at the time the crime was committed, they can be found guilty of the offense.

Section 32 of the CA Penal Code

If a person gives aid to a felon without knowledge that a crime had been committed, they can’t be convicted under Section 32. If they later learn that the person had committed a felony, and then intentionally help the principal avoid arrest, prosecution or punishment, they can be found guilty of being an accessory after the fact. If the original crime can be sentenced as either a misdemeanor or a felony, the law sees it as a felony up until the time of sentencing. Of course, a perpetrator’s charge can be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor at sentencing. If one becomes an accessory after the fact in helping to avoid a misdemeanor sentence provisions, they can’t be charged under Section 32. They might be charged with the misdemeanor of obstructing justice though.

An accessory after the fact can be charged with either a felony or misdemeanor. If charged as a misdemeanor, a conviction is punishable by up to a year in jail. A felony conviction carries up to three years in prison.

Whether charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, every arrestee has the right to a hearing on a bail bond. Risk comes with that hearing though because the judge might set a high bond amount. Working with a bail bond agency can eliminate the risk of the judge from the process and result a much faster release of the person in custody. A bail bond agency will make the release process as smooth and easy as possible.

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