The term aiding and abetting refers to the criminal charge that may be brought against a person who helps or assists in the commission of a crime without committing the crime itself. The person who commits the crime itself is the principal. The person who assists or aids and abets the commission of a crime is called an accessory. A person aids and abets the commission of a crime by committing background acts that help, facilitate or assist the commission of a crime.
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What are examples of acts that constitute “aiding and abetting”?
You may be charged as a principal (as though you had committed the actual crime) even when you served as a lookout, or when you merely drove the get-away vehicle. The person who holds down a woman while another person rapes the woman is aiding and abetting the crime of rape. The person who lures a woman to a secluded place so that another person may rape her commits and act of aiding and abetting rape.
What are the elements of the crime of aiding and abetting that the prosecutor must prove?
The prosecutor must present proof beyond reasonable doubt that a crime has been committed. The crime was committed by another person. The person charged with aiding and abetting assisted in the commission of the crime. The person charged with aiding and abetting knew of the intention or plans to commit the crime.
What if I didn’t know about the plans to commit a crime?
The crime of aiding and abetting may be brought against persons who knowingly aids, counsels, induces or procures the commission of a crime. The actions of the person accused of aiding and abetting must be accompanied with the intent to facilitate the crime.
What possible defenses can I raise if I am prosecuted for aiding and abetting?
You can prove that you had no knowledge of the plans to commit a crime. You may also prove that as soon as you realized that you may be involved in a criminal act, you stopped your support and encouragement of the commission of the crime. You can prove that you warned the persons who committed the crime or that you repudiated the crime. You can prove that you notified law enforcement of the crime about to be committed or being committed.
Can I raise the defense of alibi?
The defense of alibi is an assertion that you could not have aided or abetted in the commission of the crime because at the time and place the crime was committed you were elsewhere and it was impossible for you to have been at the time and place where the crime was committed.
Just because you are not present when the crime was committed does not mean that you did not assist or facilitate the commission of the crime. The acts that aided and abetted the commission of a criminal offense may have been committed prior to the commission of the crime itself.
Why is California criminal law strict on aiding and abetting?
Aiding and abetting is not a separate or distinct crime of itself. A person who aids and abets the commission of a crime is an accomplice to a crime.
Section 31 of Title 2 and Part 1 of the California Penal Code treats as principals those who commit acts that aid and abet the commission of a crime. This means that even if you did not commit the criminal act itself, but you assisted or facilitated its commission, you will still be charged as a principal – as though you had committed the crime itself.
Are you facing charges for aiding and abetting? Are you charged as a principal or as an accomplice? Are you charged as an accessory? Do you need legal assistance? Call our criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles.