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Accomplice Liability

If you provide some type of assistance in committing a crime, you may be charged with aiding and abetting or with being an accomplice. Additionally, if you plan to commit a crime with a person or a group of people, you may be charged with conspiracy.

Charges of aiding and abetting, also known as accomplice liability, can cover a wide variety of actions. Any person that helps aid, facilitate, promote, encourage, or instigate the commission of the crime may be criminally liable as an aider and abettor.

What is important to note however, is that if you are charged with aiding and abetting, you are essentially being charged with the crime itself. You can face the same charges as the principal actor even if you were just an accomplice in the commission of the crime.

If you or someone you know has been charged in some way with accomplice liability, it is important that you contact a lawyer immediately so that they can assess your case and provide next steps. Orange County accomplice liability lawyer, William Weinberg is an experienced defense attorney who has successfully defended hundreds of clients, including those charged with accomplice liability. Mr. Weinberg is a zealous advocate for the clients that he represents and has a track record of proven results. Mr. Weinberg takes the time to individually review each potential client’s case to provide a plan that works best for their circumstances.

California Accomplice Liability Law

California Penal Code sections 30-33 outlines the applicable law for charges related to accomplice liability. Parties to crimes are classified either as principals or accessories according to Penal Code section 30, however the implications based on which classification you fall into can be very different. According to Penal Code section 31, all persons concerned in the commission of a crime are considered to be principal actors. Even if you do not carry out the underlying offense, you could still be classified as the principal and be charged with the underlying offense if you contribute to the commission of the crime. Penal code section 32 defines accessory and it is important to note that if you are charged only as an accessory this may be a less serious offense and subsequently there may be more lenient punishment. An experienced accomplice liability attorney in Orange County can help you if you have been or believe that you will be charged with either felony or misdemeanor charges under an accomplice liability theory.

There is no classification under California law of an “accessory before the fact,” therefore anyone who assists before or while the crime is being committed is considered to be a principal actor. Any person who “after a felony has been committed, harbors, conceals or aids…in such felony” with the intent to help a person “escape from arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment” may be charged as an accessory. Accessories can be charged either as misdemeanors or felonies.

Legal Defenses

An experienced accomplice liability attorney in Orange County can fight these charges with a few different legal defense strategies. A few examples of these legal defenses include:

  • No actual participation in the crime
  • Coercion or forced participation in the crime due to threat (duress)
  • False/mistaken accusations
  • No duty to act to prevent the crime from happening
  • Withdraw from participation in the crime
  • Participation only after the crime was committed (accessory after the fact)*

*This defense strategy would only be used if you were charged as an aider and abettor to try and lessen the charges.

William Weinberg is a defense attorney with proven results and promises to vigorously defend your rights under the law. He has successfully defended hundreds of clients, including those charged with accomplice liability. To reach Orange County accomplice liability lawyer, William Weinberg please contact his Irvine office at (949) 474-8008 or by emailing him at bill@williamweinberg.com. He will review your case and provide a confidential consultation, free of charge.

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