Articles Tagged with aiding and abetting

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

Russell Taylor, the man who was accused of being Jared Fogle’s accomplice in a child pornography ring, was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, on December 10, 2015. Mr. Taylor is convicted of producing and distributing child pornography, specifically to Jared Fogle, the former Subway spokesperson. He used hidden cameras to photograph children as young as age nine in sexually explicit acts.

Mr. Taylor’s sentence was eight years less than what prosecutors sought for 12 counts of producing child pornography and one count of distributing it. However, it was more than the 15 to 23 years that Taylor’s attorneys requested. The judge rejected Taylor’s argument that he was just Fogle’s pawn, but recognized that he cooperated with authorities in Fogle’s prosecution. She noted that Taylor did not deserve to spend more time in prison than Fogle, who faces up to 50 years. It is reported that 12 victims are involved in the child porn production case, many of whom are Taylor’s own nieces and nephews.

What is a Criminal Accomplice?

A criminal accomplice is generally defined as someone who “knowingly, voluntarily, or intentionally gives assistance to another in (or in some cases fails to prevent another from) the commission of a crime.”

Under California law, criminal accomplice liability is also known as ‘aiding and abetting.’ CA Penal Code § 30-33 allows for the prosecution for anyone who encourages, facilitates, or aids in the commission of a crime, no matter how insignificant his or her role was. Presence at the crime scene is not required, and the involvement can be as simple as drawing the perpetrators a map or supplying the weapons used.

Aiding and abetting during the crime is known as an ‘accessory before the fact.’ There is no legal distinction between being an accessory or an actual perpetrator when it comes to sentencing.  The penalties for being a criminal accomplice depend on the crime that was committed.

Legal Defenses

Typical legal defenses for aiding and abetting include:

  • You were falsely accused;
  • You withdrew from the participation before the crime in question was committed;
  • You were merely present at the scene, and did not actually aid or encourage the crime;
  • You only facilitated the crime after its commission (which allows for lesser penalties).

Mere knowledge about the crime that is about to be commissioned is not enough to warrant a conviction for aiding and abetting. However, you must show you took steps to try to prevent the crime. Continue reading