The crime of aiding in abetting a criminal offense is committed in any of the ways described as follows:

1) For knowledge of the illegal plan of the perpetrators;
2) For intentionally encouraging and/or facilitating the performance of such crime;
3) For aiding, promoting or instigating the commission of the crime;

The encouragement need not be a separate act in itself or in advance. The criminal acts can be committed instantaneous to the commission of the planned crime. If one comes to information about the commission of the crime and encourages, facilitates or promotes its commission, the offense attaches because of the theory of accomplice liability.

Furthermore, there is no requirement that the conduct be substantive in the commission of the offense as the liability attaches even if the act is slight. The criminal liability also attaches to individuals who may not be capable of committing the planned crime.

This goes into the difference between conspiracy and aiding and abetting. In conspiracy, there must be an agreement to participate in the commission of the criminal offense while in aiding and abetting, there need not be an actual agreement between the individual committing the offense and the others aiding and abetting its commission.

As a matter of criminal procedure, the prosecutor does not charge the individual with aiding and abetting. What is actually done is that the individual aiding and abetting would be charged with the same crime. Oftentimes, the aider/abettor would be charged as an accomplice, depending on specific circumstances. These circumstances include proximity to the scene of the crime, relationship with the principals and their conduct before or after the commission of the offense.

Another concept included in this provision is the legal duty of every individual to report the future or actual commission of a crime. Each individual has the legal duty to take every step reasonable possible in the prevention of the commission of the crime. Failure to do such with the knowledge of such crime would be liability as an aider and abettor to the crime. This legal duty differs according to the status of the individual in society. Each individual though has the duty to prevent a crime being committed and failure to reasonably do so would make them liable as an accomplice.

The penalties imposable under this Section of the California Penal Code depend on the factual circumstances in the crime committed that was aided and abetted. When the aid provided before the commission of the offense, then the individual would be liable as an accessory before the fact or principal to the crime. There is an exception to this though in murder offenses as the aider and abettor may have committed more offenses than the actual perpetrator of the offense.

Another fact looked into in this offense is the natural and probable consequences of the act’s of the actual perpetrator aided and abetted. These results make the aider and abettor equally responsible for any other crimes that were committed aside from the actual crime aided and abetted.

The crime of aiding and abetting a criminal offense is a serious offense in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.