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Accessory After the Fact in Aliso Viejo

In the city of Aliso Viejo and in the state of California, under California Penal Code Section 32 (PC32), if a person helps the culprit of a felony by helping the culprit escape or avoid authorities, then the person helping the culprit is criminally liable as an Accessory After the Fact.

Examples of situations where someone is an Accessory After the Fact include if a person:

  • destroys evidence
  • helps a culprit by driving them away in a getaway car
  • hides a culprit in their home or
  • Deceives the authorities to protect the culprit- A person who refuses to divulge information about a culprit and therefore does not deceive the authorities cannot be charged with Accessory After the Fact.
Proving an Accessory After the Fact crime

For the prosecution to make a successful conviction, they must prove the following elements:

  • A felony was committed
  • Someone else knew a felony was committed (or that the culprit was charged or convicted of the felony)
  • After the felony, the other person illegally helped the culprit and
  • The other person took actions with the intention of helping the culprit escape or avoid the authorities

A possible defense that could be used when charged would be that you were not aware that the evidence that you destroyed, for example, was a crucial or important part to an ongoing or past criminal investigation. For example, you may have followed the instructions of someone that told you to burn something, but was unaware of the fact that the object you disposed of was a part of an investigation. Perhaps if you had the knowledge that what they instructed you to do was a part of illegal activity, then maybe you would have refused. Another defense is that you had only aided the offender with the crime because you had been threatened or coerced into doing so. For example, the offender might have gone up to you and said that if you refused to help them with their bank robbery by not being their getaway driver, then something bad may happen to your family. If they had not posed a threat to your wellbeing or the wellbeing of others, then you otherwise would not have helped them commit a crime.


The prosecution can decide to charge you with either a felony or a misdemeanor Accessory After the Fact if they have the all the necessary elements for the charge.

If you are charged with a misdemeanor you can be jailed for up to 1-year in a county jail and fined up to $5,000. For a felony charge, you can face from between 16-months to 3-years in California state prison and a fine of $ 5,000.

It is important to have a proficient and experienced attorney from the Johnson Criminal Law Group to defend you and help bring the facts of your case to light. Contact us today if you are accused of being an Accessory After the Fact so our experienced Orange County criminal defense attorneys can assist you.

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