Were you charged with aiding and abetting?

Aiding And Abetting Lawyers

If you’ve been charged, our experienced team can help you.

ABC News Logo
NBC Logo
Fox News Logo
CBS News logo
NewsNation Logo
Court TV Logo
Home » Inchoate Crimes Attorney » Aiding And Abetting Lawyer

California Aiding And Abetting Attorney – Penal Code 31 PC

Are You Looking For An Aiding & Abetting Attorney?

Picture this. You decide to pick up a friend from work. Your friend asks if you can take her to another friend’s house. She says this person finally has the money to pay back a loan and said to pick it up after work. You make the detour, but you have no idea that your friend is pummeling this person and stealing their money. Your friend saunters back into the car, and you drive off, fully unaware of what occurred. Later, the police arrest the two of you. Did you aid and abet your friend’s criminal behavior under California laws?

California Criminal Defense Attorneys

My Rights Law has helped many people in California who have faced criminal charges, including aiding and abetting. We can give you peace of mind knowing that a trained legal professional is fighting on your behalf to get you the best possible outcome considering your circumstances. The skilled inchoate crimes lawyers at My Rights Law are ready to go to work for you today. If you are charged with aiding and abetting in California, get in touch with us by calling (888) 702-8882 or contacting us by submitting our secure web form without delay.

What Is Aiding And Abetting Penal Code 31 PC?

Aiding and abetting California Penal Code 31 PC is often confused with accessory after the fact or conspiracy. California law, however, defines aiding and abetting as follows. The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • The perpetrator committed the crime
  • You knew, beforehand, that the perpetrator meant to commit this crime
  • Either before or during the criminal conduct, you intended to help them commit it and
  • You indeed facilitated, aided, or encouraged it in some manner.[1]

For the prosecutor to show that you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, they don’t need to eliminate the entire realm of possibility that you’re innocent. Instead, they must show the judge or jury that it’s very likely that you committed the crime based on the evidence. You might find this law unfair or even unconstitutional, but this is what you’ll be up against until the legal definition changes. Thankfully, our experienced criminal defense attorneys at My Rights Law are a team of wise, passionate lawyers who’ll fight aggressively on your behalf.

Let’s dig deeper into what aiding and abetting means. You should be aware that you needn’t be present at the scene of the crime for a prosecutor to charge you.[2] Furthermore, you needn’t have carried out the final step of the crime for a prosecutor to charge you with the same offenses as the principal actor (i.e., the main person who thought of and committed the criminal act). So long as you had knowledge of the crime and helped someone carry it out, you can be found guilty of aiding and abetting.

Let’s suppose that a coworker told you that he planned to poison your manager’s tea the following day. If so, you knew about the intended crime. Let’s suppose you stood lookout as this coworker did just that. You whistled when you saw someone strolling by so that your coworker covered up his actions. You didn’t buy the tea. You didn’t secure the poison. You didn’t even encourage your manager to drink it. Yet, you still intended to assist a felonious act, and your actions further encouraged the crime. In this case, there’s a strong likelihood you’d be charged with aiding and abetting.

What Are The Penalties For Aiding And Abetting PC 31?

If the state charges you with this offense, you stand in the same place as the principal perpetrator. In other words, whatever crime he’s being charged with and whatever potential penalties it comes with, you’ll be at risk of, as well. If it’s murder and the principal actor is facing life in prison, regardless of whether you participated in the final step of killing, you might face murder charges, too.

What Are Viable Defenses To Aiding And Abetting PC 31?

There are several defenses. Lack of knowledge can be a viable defense. As stated earlier, a judge or jury should not be able to find you guilty of aiding and abetting if you lacked the required knowledge of the crime.[3] For example, maybe you thought you were helping a friend garden someone else’s home—not vandalize another person’s property. In this case, lack of knowledge can be difficult to prove, but an expert aiding and abetting defense attorney will know how to secure favorable evidence.

Perhaps you genuinely believed you were helping someone do something lawful.[4] If so, your intention couldn’t have been to assist in criminal conduct. Instead, your only intention was to be helpful. Let’s suppose that you’re strolling down the street, and you see two men struggling. One man calls out for help. Seeing he’s badly beaten, instinctively, you run over and pull the other guy off him and hold that guy down. Before you know it, the man who called for help sniggers and fleas with the restrained man’s wallet. Here, you intended to prevent crime—not encourage it.

There are a host of other defenses, such as withdrawal. For this to be a valid defense, certain facts must be present. You must have backed out of the crime before the perpetrator committed it; you must have made the perpetrator aware that you were backing out; you must have taken meaningful steps to prevent the crime from occurring, such as alerting police or the would-be victims.

Other defenses include:

  • Mistaken identity
  • No duty to act
  • No participation
  • False accusation
  • Duress (someone forced you with threats)

You may argue that you’re an accessory after the fact, a charge that comes with a lighter sentence.[5] But bear in mind that you’ll likely still serve a prison sentence and have to deal with the aftermath of having a conviction on your record.

Call My Rights Law Today

The accusation of aiding and abetting is a tricky one. Although the state must prove certain elements, a judge or jury can be biased. It’s easier for people to buy into the notion that you had some knowledge of the crime and helped in some fashion if the accused is someone you know. Not to mention, the principal perpetrator might become vindictive and want to see someone else go down with them. When that happens, they might be prone to lie about your level of knowledge and involvement.

This is why My Rights Law is here. With decades of litigation and criminal defense experience, we’re a team of knowledgeable attorneys you can trust. We’ve handled countless cases such as yours, and our reputation speaks for itself. So don’t hesitate. You have too much at stake to wait. Call us today for a free consultation at (888) 702-8882 or contact us through our secure web form.

Other inchoate crimes we defend include: Charged With Attempt

[1] Refer to CA Penal Code 31.
[2] Refer to California Jury Instructions – Criminal CALJIC 3.01—Aiding and Abetting regarding “constructive presence.”
[3] Refer to People v. Patterson, (1989) 209 Cal. App. 3d 610 at 616-617, where the Court stated criminal purpose to aid and abet the commission of an unlawful act is mandatory.
[4] Refer to the above footnote.
[5] Refer to California Jury Instructions – Criminal CALJIC 3.01—Post-Crime Assistance Is Not Aiding And Abetting.

We’re On Your Side Free Consultation

(888) 702-8882