Los Angeles Conspiracy & Aiding and Abetting Federal Defense Lawyer
Defending Aiding and Abetting & Conspiracy Charges Throughout Los Angeles
In California, you can face criminal penalties without committing a crime. This unsettling truth may cause you to think twice before planning to or helping someone break the law.
Any person who assists another in committing a criminal act can be charged with either conspiracy or aiding and abetting, even if the offense was never committed. The main differences between these two crimes lie in the type, timing and extent of assistance involved in a crime. Regardless of your degree of involvement, you could be looking at the same penalties as a person who single-handedly committed a crime.
Don’t be remiss by assuming you won’t get in serious trouble for conspiracy or aiding and abetting. Criminal involvement of any kind can lead to devastating outcomes, which is why it’s in your best interests to put an expert criminal defense lawyer on your side. As a certified specialist in criminal law by the Board of Legal Specialization, California State Bar, attorney Joseph Shemaria has the superior skills and competence needed to help you combat your accusations.
Aiding and Abetting
CA Penal Code Section 31 defines the crime of aiding and abetting as “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, or, not being present, have advised and encouraged its commission … are principals in any crime so committed.”
In other words, you are considered equally responsible for committing a crime as the principal and will suffer the same consequences as a result. By helping a principal before or after a crime, you are just as guilty as they are in the eyes of the law.
It is necessary to distinguish between the accessory and principal in aiding and abetting cases. The term “accessory” in legal terms refers to a person who assists in a criminal act committed by another or others. The principal is the primary commissioner of a crime, and an accessory may offer the principal advice, actions or monetary support to help them commit an offense. In cases where two or more people are charged for aiding and abetting, they are termed as “joint principals.”
Under most jurisdictions, those who are charged with aiding and abetting (accessory) are not directly involved with the crime nor present at the time of its commission. Instead, they knew of the crime either before or after it occurred, and may be charged as either an “accessory before the fact” or “accessory after the fact,” respectively.
Certain tests involving the three elements below are used to determine whether one is guilty of aiding and abetting:
- another person committed the crime
- the individual being charged with the crime knew the principal’s intent
- the individual provided the principal with some type of assistance
Punishments for accessories vary from state to state. However, common law traditionally views accessories as being just as guilty as the principal in a crime, and thus subject to the same penalties.
Another term that may arise from an aiding and abetting case may be that of an accomplice. Unlike an accessory or abettor who provides information and assistance before or after a crime is committed, an accomplice is present at the time a crime occurs. The prosecution must prove that the accomplice had knowledge of the crime and intended to indirectly participate in its commission.
Conspiracy can occur if a crime was planned but never completed. So long as a plan to commit the crime has been made and two or more people act toward the crime, the prosecution may accuse a person of conspiracy to commit a crime. For a person to be found guilty of conspiracy, the prosecution must prove the following elements:
- two or more persons were involved
- they had the intent to commit a crime
- they made an agreement to violate CA law or defraud the state
- the persons committed some overt act in California in furtherance of the agreement
Penalties for federal conspiracy charges are a maximum of five years in prison and/or up to $250,000 fines. In California, if two or more people conspire to do the following acts, they may suffer a felony charge punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or up to $10,000 fines.
- commit any crime
- falsely and maliciously to indict another for any crime or to procure another to be charged or arrested for any crime
- falsely move or maintain any suit, action or proceeding
- cheat and defraud any person of any property, by any means which are in themselves criminal, or obtain money or property by false pretenses or by false promises with fraudulent intent not to perform those promises
- commit any act injurious to the public health, to public morals or to pervert or obstruct justice, or the due administration of the law
commit any crime against the person of the President or Vice President
of the United States, the Governor of any state or territory, any US justice
or judge, or the secretary of any of the executive departments of the US
- Punishable by five to nine years in prison
Tough Legal Defense for Tough Criminal Charges
If you have been accused of aiding and abetting or conspiring to commit a crime in Los Angeles, you need to enlist the aid of a criminal defense specialist who can help you protect and exercise your legal rights. Shemaria Law Offices can provide expert counsel, a thorough evaluation of your case and fierce representation to best overcome your criminal charges. We aggressively fight on your behalf so you can best avoid an aiding and abetting or conspiracy charge.
Over 50 Years of Legal Experience
Certified Criminal Law Specialist by the Board of Legal Specialization, California State Bar
Handled State & Federal Cases in 24 Individual States
Tried Over 275 Cases to a Jury
First & Youngest Attorney Ever Appointed to a Death Penalty Case
Member of the L.A. County Bar Association