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 after the fact to such felony.

For example, if your friend has committed a burglary under penal code 242 and you sheltered him in your garage to help him avoid the police, you would be charged with being an accessory after the fact under penal code 32.  If an attorney creates a forged and fraudulent document and files it with the Court and you find out later that it was your name on the document yet fail to report the attorney to the police, you are guilty of a crime.

To prove an accessory after the fact charge, the law requires the prosecutor to prove the following elements to be guilty of penal code 322 beyond a reasonable doubt:

A felony has been committed by a principal felon;

You knew that the principal has either (1) committed such felony; (2) has been charged with such felony; or (3) was convicted of the felony;

After the felony has been committed, you either harbored concealed or aided the principal;

You assisted the felon with the intent that he/she may avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction or punishment.

How It Works Example: Joe and Mary agreed to rob a bank.  Joe went inside the bank to take the cash and Mary waited outside in the getaway car.  After the robbery – penal code 211, Joe and Mary drove to Susan’s house.  Susan has sheltered Joe and Mary before and had a deal to receive 10% of the stolen money.

Joe and Mary would be convicted as principal felons and Sarah would be charged as an accessory after the fact under penal code 32 pc, because (1) a felony was committed; (2) Sarah knew that Joe and Mary committed the felony; (3) Sarah sheltered Joe and Mary in her house; and (4) she did so to help them avoid getting arrested and so that she could get a cut of the stolen money.

The severity of the penalties under penal code 32 and sentencing depends on several factors, including your criminal history and the severity of the offense.  For example, the sentencing guidelines differ as follows when the circumstances surrounding your case make it a misdemeanor as opposed to a felony:

For a misdemeanor, an accessory is punishable by:

A fine of up to $5,000; and

Imprisonment in a county jail of up to but not exceeding one year.

For a felony, an accessory is punishable by:

A fine of up to $5,000; and

Imprisonment in a county jail for a period of 16 months, or 2-3 years, depending on the seriousness of the felony.