Accessory After the Fact: California Penal Code 32 PC

In the State of California, it is unlawful for a person to assist or help another person who has committed a felony with the intent to help them escape being arrested, convicted, or sentenced. Accessory after the fact under California Penal code 32 PC is a wobbler, meaning the prosecutor has the discretion to charge this crime as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of your case. You should not take an accessory after the fact charge lightly as a conviction of felony accessory after the fact carries a maximum prison sentence of up to three years in California State Prison.

So, if you have been charged with being an accessory of the fact, you should immediately contact an experienced accessory after the fact defense attorney at The H Law Group to defend you and keep you from going to prison. We have defended thousands of clients over the past ten years, so we have the knowledge and experience it takes to offer you the best possible criminal defense. Schedule your free consultation by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

Text of Penal Code Section 32 – Accessory After the Fact

According to California Penal Code Section 32 PC, “Every person who, after a felony has been committed, harbors, conceals or aids a principal in such felony, with the intent that said principal may avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction or punishment, having knowledge that said principal has committed such felony or has been charged with such felony or convicted thereof, is an accessory to such felony.”

Note: Accessory after the fact only applies to persons who assist the person who committed a felony after the felony is complete by aiding or assisting the perpetrator of the felony with avoiding being arrest, brought to trail, convicted, or punished. Since an accessory after the fact does not assist the person with the commission of a felony, the accessory faces a less severe punishment than the person who committed the felony. That said, if convicted as an accessory after the fact, a person faces harsh consequences that could send him to prison for up to three years.

Proving a Person Guilty of Being an Accessory After the Fact in Violation of PC 32

For the prosecution to convict a person of being an accessory after the fact in violation of PC 32, the prosecution must prove a number of elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to prove even one element, it will not be able to convict the defendant of being an accessory after the fact.

The prosecution must prove the following elements:

  • Another person committed a felony – For the prosecution to convict the defendant of being an accessory after the fact, a felony must have been committed by another person. A person cannot be convicted of being an accessory after the fact for a misdemeanor offense
  • The defendant knowingly assisted, harbored, or concealed the person who committed the felony AND
  • The defendant knew that the person he assisted, harbored, or concealed committed a felon, was charged with a felony, or was convicted of a felony

Note: The prosecution must prove that the defendant offered the perpetrator of the felony with assistance after the felony has been committed. However, if the defendant agreed to offer assistance after the commission of the felony prior to the perpetrator committing the felony, the defendant can be charged with aiding and abetting the perpetrator, which is a more serious crime.

Penalties for Persons Convicted of Being an Accessory After the Fact

If the prosecution convicts a person of being an accessory after the fact, the penalties differ depending on whether the defendant was convicted of misdemeanor accessory after the fact, or felony accessory after the fact. Here are the consequences of both:

Conviction of a misdemeanor offense

  • Up to six months of imprisonment in county jail
  • A fine of up to $5,000
  • Placement on summary informal probation

Felony Accessory After the Fact

  • Conviction of a felony offense
  • 16 months, two years, or three years imprisonment in California State Prison
  • A fine of up to $5,000
  • Placement on felony formal probation

As you can see, the penalties are very harsh, so if you have been charged as an accessory after the fact in violation of penal code 32 PC, you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at The H Law Group to defend you and keep you from going to jail or prison for a long period of time.

Accessory After the Fact Defenses

If you have been charged as an accessory after the fact, there are a number of defenses that your attorney can use to defend you. Here are some of the defenses that may be available to you:

  • You did not know that the person you harbored or concealed was charged with or convicted of a felony
  • The person you harbored did not commit a felony
  • You did not harbor, conceal, nor aid a person charged with or convicted of a felony
  • You harbored, concealed, or aided the perpetrator, but you did so under duress
  • You are being falsely accused of being an accessory after the fact

Examples of Accessory After the Fact

John shoots members of a rival gang while heading home from a buddy’s home. John is then arrested and sent to jail. At trial he’s convicted of first-degree murder. Before John turns himself in to the police, he asks his friend Tim who knows that he has been convicted of a felony to hide him at his home until “things cool down.” Tim agrees and takes him to his home. Tim can be charged with and convicted of being an accessory after the fact.

Anthony has just committed a robbery. Attempting to flee, he flags down a passing vehicle and asks the driver to take him to the nearest hotel. The driver of the vehicle should not be charged with, nor can he be convicted of an accessory after the fact because he did not know that he was aiding a person who has just committed a felony from escaping.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with as an accessory after the fact, you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at The H Law Group to defend you and keep you from going to jail or prison. Our criminal defense lawyers have the knowledge and experienced to mitigate the potential consequences that you face. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

Charged with a Crime?


Act now to protect your legal rights.

Charged with a Crime?


Act now to protect your legal rights.