At the Griffin Law Office, APC, our San Diego criminal defense attorney represents clients throughout California, including those who are facing accessory to murder charges.

An accessory to murder in California is a person who, though not directly committing the murder, assists or enables the principal offender either before or after the crime. California law distinguishes between accessories before the fact and accessories after the fact. Here, we explain the differences.

What is Accessory Before the Fact in California?

This is someone who aids, abets, counsels, or encourages the principal in the commission of the murder but is not present during the actual crime. In California, accessories before the fact are typically treated as principals and can face the exact charges and penalties of the person who committed the murder.

What is Accessory After the Fact in California?

Under California Penal Code Section 32, an accessory after the fact is someone who, knowing that a felony (in this case, murder) has been committed, assists the principal offender in avoiding arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment.

To be convicted as an accessory after the fact, the prosecution must prove:

  • A felony was committed.
  • The defendant knew the principal had committed the felony.
  • The defendant knowingly harbored, concealed, or aided the principal.
  • The defendant acted to help the principal avoid or escape arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment.

Penalties for being an accessory after the fact are generally less severe than those for the principal offender. An accessory after the fact to murder can face up to three years in state prison, fines, and other consequences.

However, the penalties can vary based on the case details and the defendant’s criminal history.

Contact Our San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you face accessory to murder charges in California, call 619-269-2131 to speak with our skilled San Diego criminal defense attorney today or contact us online. We can explain your legal rights and help you build a defense to pursue the best outcome for your case.