“Accessory After The Fact” In California

Free & Confidential Consultations

If you help out a loved one or a friend after they commit a felony in California, you could be in serious trouble.

You could face a felony charge and spend time in prison if convicted as an accessory after the fact.

The best way to avoid the potentially harsh consequences of a conviction for accessory after the fact in California is to contact a skilled criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, possess the knowledge, skill, and tenacity you need when facing criminal charges.

Our award-winning defense lawyers are always standing by and ready to fight for your freedom.

Contact us today to get started.

What Is Accessory After the Fact?

Before we discuss the definition of accessory after the fact, you should understand how California law categorizes people involved in criminal activity.

According to California Penal Code §30, a party involved in a criminal act is either a principal or an accessory.

A principal is a person who commits a crime.

For example, a principal is someone who robbed a store, fired the gun that killed another, or broke into someone’s home.

In addition, California Penal Code §31 states that a principal is someone who helped, aided, abetted, or counseled another person to commit a crime.

For instance, a principal would be the person who was a lookout during the robbery, drove the shooter to the shooting scene, or helped someone break into a home.

Sometimes the law refers to this individual as a joint venturer. A person could face charges as a principal even if they were not present at the crime scene. 

However, California Penal Code §32 defines accessory after the fact as anyone who harbors, conceals, or gives aid to another after that person committed a felony with the intent to help the principal avoid capture, trial, conviction, or punishment.

This requires the prosecutor to prove that you knew the principal either committed a felony, faced felony charges, or was convicted of felony charges.

Under the current state of California law, you cannot be an accessory after the fact regarding a misdemeanor. 

Accessory After the Fact Sentence

Distinguishing between principals and accessories is essential. Principals all face the same penalty in most circumstances, but accessories do not. 

According to Penal Code §33, a person convicted as an accessory could go to jail for as long as one year and pay up to a $5,000 fine. 

Alternatively, a judge can sentence you as a felon.

Penal Code section 33 indicates that a judge can sentence a person convicted of accessory after the fact according to Penal Code section 1170(h).

Section 1170(h)(1) indicates that a person convicted of a felony can go to prison for sixteen months, two years, or three years.  

The alternative sentencing structure continued in Penal Code section 33 makes the crime a “wobbler.”

Therefore, the prosecution can charge you as an accessory to a misdemeanor or a felony. 

Felony Convictions Carry Severe Consequences

It will likely come as no surprise that a felony conviction can cause a severe disruption in your life.

Not only do you face the possibility of going to jail or prison, but you could also suffer unforeseen collateral consequences.

For example, you might lose your job or find getting a job very tough with a felony conviction on your record.

You might find that obtaining suitable housing is difficult. Also, you could lose your right to vote or own a handgun.

Lastly, a felony conviction can have dire consequences for a person who is not a U.S. citizen.

A felony conviction could result in deportation, being refused admission to the U.S., or denying your naturalization rights. 

Talk with a knowledgeable defense lawyer from The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, today to learn more about your potential defenses. 

Skilled Accessory After the Fact Defense Lawyers

As you can tell, there is a lot on the line when you get charged with a crime.

You need a skilled criminal defense attorney to defend your rights in court so you can live your life and provide for your family.

Our award-winning defense attorneys have received numerous accolades for their dedication to excellence and commitment to protecting your rights.

Most notably, Attorney Armstrong is a board-certified criminal defense specialist.

Call The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, today at 619-439-0981 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help you. Our experience is second to none. 

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

Rate this Post

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars