Say you acted as a getaway driver in a bank robbery or turned off the alarm system in a store where you work because you know there is going to be a robbery later that night. If you have committed any crimes similar to this, you have acted as an accomplice. Complicity is when you help or encourage somebody else to commit a crime, also known as aiding and abetting. You may think that there are ways around these crimes because you did not physically commit the crime yourself. However, this is not so. Your actions helped somebody commit the crime and this is enough to be charged.
Accomplices are charged under California’s “Aiding and Abetting” laws, which are covered in Penal Code 31 PC. These assign criminal charges to anybody who encourages, facilitates, or aids in the commission of a crime. More specifically, it states, “All persons concerned in the commission of a crime, whether it be a felony or misdemeanor, and whether they directly commit the act constituting the offense, or aid and abet in its commission… are principals in any crime so committed.”
To better understand these laws, let’s look at an example. Let’s say that somebody decides that they are going to rob a bank, so they sit and draw up the plans and have a driver take them there. The driver waits outside in the getaway car while the robber goes inside and retrieves the money. From there, he gets into the car and they drive off. If they are caught, the robber will not be the only one charged with the crime. Yes, one person did the actual robbing. However, the prosecutor in the case would charge both of them with the robbery because the driver acted as an aider and abettor.
Liability for Aiders and Abettors
Accomplice liability makes it so that an accomplice to a crime faces the same degree of guilt and punishment as the person who committed the crime. Accomplices do not get smaller sentences. No, they will face just as much time in prison as the actual person who committed the crime. What prosecutors consider is whether or not the individual intentionally encouraged the crime. In some cases, they may have just failed to prevent it from happening by alerting authorities when they became involved.
How Are Complicity and Conspiracy Different?
Complicity and conspiracy are a bit different. For example, somebody is conspiring when they take an active role in the planning of a crime. Somebody who is part of a conspiracy will take considerations to commit a future crime. However, in the case of an accomplice, they will assist in the commission of a crime. Conspirators are also found guilty even if the plan is not completed, because the plan was still in place and regarded a crime.
You can be charged with this very serious crime if you had intent to complete this crime with others. So where should you turn if you have been charged with being an accomplice in a crime? Call us today for more information and we will answer all of your important questions.