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California PC 32

California Penal Code 32: Accessory After the Fact

Legal Definition: 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 the principal has committed such felony or has been charged with such felony or convicted thereof, is an accessory to such felony.

In order for a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 32, it is crucial to consider the following elements, as the prosecution must thoroughly prove each one:

  • Commitment of a felony by the perpetrator
  • Knowledge on your part that the said perpetrator either committed a felony or was charged with or convicted of one
  • Your involvement in either harboring, concealing, or aiding the perpetrator after the felony had taken place
  • Demonstrable intent on your part to enable the perpetrator to avoid or escape arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment

These requirements serve as the foundation for determining guilt in cases related to PC 32, demanding a diligent examination of the evidence presented. As experienced professionals in the legal field, we understand the significance of these factors and provide you with the expertise, authority, and trustworthy guidance you need.

What does this mean?

In simpler terms, an accessory after the fact is someone who knows that another person has committed a crime and helps them avoid arrest. This assistance can range from simply allowing them into your home to avoid the police, to more complex acts. It is important to note that being aware of a crime and not reporting it does not automatically make you guilty of being an accessory after the fact. There is typically no legal duty to report a crime. Furthermore, if you unknowingly provide aid to someone who has committed a crime, you are not criminally liable as an accessory after the fact. Accidentally assisting someone, without knowledge of their criminal activities, does not make you legally responsible. It is important to distinguish this from being an aider and abettor, which involves actively assisting in the commission of a crime.


An accessory after the fact is a wobbler offense, which means it could be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If convicted under PC 32 as a misdemeanor offense, you may face a sentence of up to one year in County Jail. However, if convicted of these offenses as a felony, the potential sentence increases to a minimum of 16 months, and in some cases, 2 or 3 years in State Prison. Keep in mind that you would be required to serve 50% of that sentence in Jail or Prison. The determination of whether you will be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor depends on the specific facts of your case, as well as your criminal history.

It is important to note that an accessory after the fact is not considered a strike offense under the Three Strikes Law. Nevertheless, significant fines, fees, and, in some cases, restitution may be imposed. You can trust our team of experienced professionals to guide you through the legal process and provide you with expert advice and representation.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Violation of your Rights
  4. Mistake of Fact

The primary strategy relied upon by seasoned professionals in combating such charges is asserting your lack of awareness regarding the commission of any offense. Consider the following scenario: a close acquaintance unexpectedly visits your premises, seeking temporary refuge. Perhaps they furnish you with a fabricated narrative detailing troubles with their romantic partner and their need for an escape. It is not incumbent upon you to ascertain the veracity of their statements, their true intentions, or whether they engaged in any illicit conduct. In this context, innocence prevails, provided it is reasonable given the circumstances. Rest assured that this counsel is provided by experienced experts with exceptional expertise and an authoritative and trustworthy perspective.

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The severity of charges in these cases significantly depends on the nature of the crime committed. If an individual commits murder and you assist them in hiding out in your home, it is highly likely that you will face a felony charge, potentially resulting in a lengthy prison sentence. Judges take a stern stance in such situations, as it involves obstructing law enforcement, compromising public safety, and harboring a criminal. This highlights the critical importance of having an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the local courts. They can skillfully present your side of the case, develop a solid defense strategy, and work towards keeping you out of jail. With our PC 32 Ontario criminal defense attorneys, we have successfully represented numerous clients facing felony offenses under PC 32. We offer a free initial consultation and our team is available round the clock to address any queries you may have. For trusted representation, contact Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-281-0391.

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