Anyone who encourages, facilitates, or aids in the commission of a crime can be arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced with the same crime as the person who actually committed it. Known as aiding and abetting or accomplice liability, this California charge catches all crimes, whether felony or misdemeanor, and any participation, whether the person committed the act constituting the offense or just aided and abetted in the commission of a crime. Aiding and abetting is not a separate crime.
For example, Nathan, Mateo, and Logan plan to rob a jewelry store. Each plays a different role. Nathan draws a diagram of the display case and safes. He gives the drawing to Mateo. Logan drives Mateo to the jewelry store and waits out front in the getaway car. Mateo actually goes inside the store, takes the jewelry, runs out of the store, and jumps in Logan’s car. The two of them drive off.
While only Mateo stole the jewels, all three could be charged with armed robbery because Mateo as the direct perpetrator entered the jewelry store and committed an armed robbery. Nathan and Logan are liable as aiders and abettors even if they did not know Mateo had the gun with him when he robbed the store.
Nathan can not put forth a defense that he was not present during the armed robbery because by drawing the diagram of the display cases and safes, he had more than knowledge of the planned robbery – he was involved in planning it and did nothing to stop it.
A new California law will redefine accomplice liability in felony murder cases. Check back next week for an in-depth look at Senate Bill 1437.
Charged Under California’s Aiding and Abetting Laws?
Under California law, if you aid and abet a person who actually committed a crime, you could face the same exact penalties, meaning a prison sentence. Aiding and abetting is not a crime in itself, instead it imposes criminal liability on the action of helpers. If you help someone commit a crime, you will be charged with the same crime as the person who actually committed the crime. Contact a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney to discuss your defense and mitigating circumstances. Continue reading