When it comes to friends and family, most people will do whatever they can to help out their loved ones. If someone that they care about is in trouble, they will not rest until they have helped get their loved one out of trouble. This is how a family is supposed to work in most instances, however, there are times where helping someone can get a person into trouble.
When some people get into trouble, they prefer to avoid the consequences rather than face them. Unfortunately, this practice only ever makes things worse. This is especially true when a person is running from law enforcement officers. By doing so, they only provide more reasons for them to be arrested. On top of that, if any of their friends and family members help them in avoiding arrest, then they could wind up in legal trouble too.
What Is Aiding and Abetting
Helping a loved one hide or run from police officers is a form of aiding and abetting. This crime is described under Penal Code (PC) 31 as a person encouraging, facilitating, or aiding another individual with a criminal act.
Running from law enforcement is just one example of aiding and abetting a criminal. As stated above, a person is guilty of aiding and abetting a criminal whenever they help someone else commit an illegal act. This includes running from the police since that is resisting arrest.
If a person helps with any aspect of the crime, from the planning stage to helping hide the person afterward, then they are guilty of aiding and abetting. Even if a person didn’t help someone plan the crime, they can be guilty of aiding and abetting if they learn of the illegal act and do nothing to stop it.
The Penalties of PC 31
The consequences of aiding and abetting are very unique here in California and can be pretty severe. Under PC 31, a person is never actually charged with aiding and abetting. Instead, this crime simply labels the person as an accomplice to the crime. This makes it so that the person can then be charged with whatever crime they helped the other person commit.
If a person commits a particularly bad crime, such as rape or murder, then whoever aided and abetted them will face those harsh consequences as well, even if they weren’t involved in the actual act.
If a person helped someone after the crime was committed, then they can be labeled as an accessory after the fact. Under this definition, a person would be considered obstructing justice. In these instances, a person will likely face lighter charges than the person they helped. However, those charges can still be pretty high. For instance, a person faces 9 years in state prison for carjacking. The consequence of an accessory after the fact is up to 3 years in state prison.
It is also important to note that a person can be found guilty of the harsher crimes that another person committed even if they didn’t intend for that crime to be committed. For example, if two people are robbing a store. One is the getaway driver and the other goes into rob the place. If the person inside kills someone, the getaway driver can also be charged with murder even though they never intended for anyone to get killed. This is because the murder was a natural and probable consequence of the robbery.
Don’t Help with Crimes
Trying to help friends and family members is almost always a good thing to do. However, there are times when it shouldn’t be done. When someone is contemplating committing a crime or is committing a crime, the last thing their friends and family members should do is help them with the illegal activity. Doing so makes them an accessory to the crime.
Once a person becomes an accessory to the crime, under PC 31, they can face all of the same penalties their loved one would face for committing the crime. In this instance, helping their loved one would only make things worse.