The Law on Accessory After the Fact
Also known as AATF, California Penal Code Sec 32 defines the criminal act known as being an accessory after the fact. The crime is committed by an individual assisting another person after the commission of a felony. This assistance may be either aiding to evade from arrest, trial, conviction, and/or punishment.
The following are the elements of the crime of being an accessory after the fact:
- An individual committed a felony offense;
- The person accused of the crime of aiding and abetting knowingly harbored, concealed or aided that felony offender;
- The accessory knew the following:
- The person aided committed the felony;
- The person aided was charged with the felony;
- The person aided was convicted of the felony;
- The accessory did the offense to protect the individual to evade arrest, trial, conviction, and/or sentencing.
When being charged with the crime of being an accessory after the fact, the prosecutors can try the case either as a misdemeanor or felony offense depending on the factual circumstances of the case and the criminal history of the accused. For a misdemeanor offense, the convicted individual would need to pay $5,000 as fines and spend as much as one year in county jail. For a felony conviction, the individual would need to pay $5,000 fine and between sixteen to thirty-six months in state prison.
There are fine distinctions that need to be known regarding this criminal offense. When the individual was part of the planning and agreeing to the commission of the crime, the individual would not fall within the legal definition of being an accessory but would be considered as an aider, abettor or co-conspirator. There are also no accessories after the fact in misdemeanor offenses.
In conviction, the court considers the following factors:
- The proximity of the defendant at the crime scene;
- The knowledge of the defendant about the felony committed;
- The defendant’s relationship to the principal, both before and after the offense;
The common instances that this crime is committed is through any of the following acts:
- Concealment of evidence;
- Lying to the Police;
- Destruction of Evidence;
- Driving the Getaway vehicle;