Aiding and Abetting Law in California
In California, you can also be charged with a crime even if you did not directly commit it. If you help, facilitate, or encourage someone to commit a crime, you can face the exact same punishment as the individual that carried out the crime. According to California Penal Code 31 PC, aiding and abetting a crime can result in serious punishments, including felony convictions.
It does not matter whether you helped plan the crime beforehand, the important elements are that at the time you did act, you knew of the plan to commit the crime, supported the plan, and helped or encouraged the act of the crime (with intent). Your act of involvement in the crime does not have to significantly aid the actual perpetrators. Instead, as long as you do promote the crime (including acts as small as arranging a meeting), then you have aided and abetted. Furthermore, the law disregards the ability to commit the crime for aiding and abetting. If the person serving as lookout is physically incapable of entering the apartment building and stealing the money, they will still be charged with the same punishment as if they had. Another crucial detail the law does not necessarily require is presence at the crime scene when the crime occurs. If your act of aiding the crime can be done without actually being there, you still aided the plan.
What happens when someone is convicted of violating Penal Code 31 PC? They will face the same punishment as the individual charged with the crime. For example, if the main perpetrator murders someone using a gun, then the individual who aided and abetted the murder will also face the same life sentence as the murderer. However, it is important to note that if someone has to defend against aiding and abetting, there are some defenses that can be utilized by a criminal attorney. These include proving that the defendant had no legal duty to prevent the crime, did not actually aid the plan, or did not go through with the plan. In any case, punishments match up with the perpetrator’s, and, in most cases, are severe. Therefore, if someone is falsely accused of such a crime, they must immediately seek the advice of an experienced attorney.