What is an Accomplice?
An accomplice is one who aids, abets, or encourages another person to commit a crime with the intent that the crime be committed. See California Penal Code § 31.
Navigating Accomplice Testimony in California
In a criminal prosecution, the district attorney’s office can charge someone as an accomplice to a crime when that person aids, abets, or encourages another to commit a crime. Oftentimes, the state will offer the accomplice leniency or even immunity from prosecution for their cooperation in testifying against the person they helped to commit the crime.
In California, if found guilty, an accomplice will be liable for the same charge as the named defendant. The question of whether someone is an accomplice is a question of fact for the jury. An accomplice is one who does not merely observe the crime but rather one who acts with the intent that the other person commits the crime and does provide some aid, abet, or otherwise encourage that the crime be committed.
The main problem with using accomplice testimony against a criminal defendant is the reliability of the accomplice’s testimony at trial. To prevent the accomplice from shifting blame for their own actions and from providing false testimony to minimize their own wrongful conduct, California Penal Code § 1111 was enacted to require that testimony from an accomplice must be corroborated in order to be admissible at trial.
This requirement, simply put, means that if an accomplice is going to testify against a defendant, then there must be some piece of evidence, not including any evidence provided by the accomplice themselves, that links the defendant with the crime. The evidence that links the defendant to the crime can be circumstantial or testimonial from the defendant themselves but cannot come from the accomplice’s own out-of-court statements.
Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Wallin & Klarich Now
If you or someone you know have been charged with aiding or abetting a crime, you should call our law firm. Wallin & Klarich’s experienced criminal defense attorneys will do everything they can to fight for you and make sure your rights are protected and ensure that the prosecution operates within their ethical obligations. With over 38 years of experience defending persons facing federal and state criminal charges, we have the legal experience and commitment to help you obtain the best result possible in your case.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available near you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (714) 587-4279 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will be there when you call.