This story is like something inspired by the 1967 film, “Cool Hand Luke,” although Luke was merely charged with destruction of property, not theft or embezzlement. In this case, a woman has been sentenced to a 9-month term in jail for her part as an accessory in her husband’s crime. Evidently, the husband (38) used his job as a campus police officer to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from Santa Rosa Junior College parking meters. He pled guilty to 11 counts of possession of stolen property and to charges of grand theft (CA Penal Code 487) last April.
This woman’s story should remind citizens of the state of California that the law considers any person who has assisted or aided another individual who has committed a felony, they may be charged under CA Penal Code 32 “Accessory After the Fact.” But, what does being an ‘accessory after the fact’ really entail? Who could be considered guilty of this crime and under what circumstances?
California law dictates that hiding a known criminal, assisting them in fleeing law enforcement officials, getting rid of evidence for a known perpetrator, or lying to the police are all actions that could expose you to having committed a violation CA PC 32. Cases of this kind are ‘wobblers,’ meaning that it is up to the team of prosecutors involved to determine whether or not your crime should be treated as a misdemeanor or as a felony. If you are convicted of felony ‘accessory after the fact,’ you may plan to spend up to 3 years in state prison. However, if (like the woman above), the charge is considered to rise only to the level of a misdemeanor, then you may expect to spend up to 1 year in county jail.