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Avvo excellent rating & featured attorney, Clients' Choice for Criminal Defense, Abraham Lincoln University of Law class valedictorian.

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Through competitive pricing, affordable fees and payment plans, LeahLegal is able to work with our clients to ensure great defense on their cases.

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LeahLegal has an impeccable reputation with colleagues and clients, as well as throughout the courts. Read some past client reviews here.

Van Nuys Criminal Attorney

Criminal defense is about defending rights. And everyone has rights. Yet when you have been charged with a crime and are swept up in the criminal justice system, you quickly learn that nobody is as interested in defending your rights as you are, and you cannot do it alone. For fierce, uncompromising criminal defense call Leah Legal now!

When you or someone you know and love are suddenly arrested on criminal charges in Los Angeles or throughout Southern California, you have an immediate "emergency" on your hands. You are likely in a situation you have never been in before, such that confusion and uncertainty can run rife.

And if you are more familiar with the legal process because you are facing a repeat charge, that only means that the stakes will be that much higher as to potential sentencing, and there will still be legal surprises that can "ambush" you absent an experienced criminal defense attorney who has seen it all before.

Leah Legal Criminal Defense Law Office has been serving the L.A. and Southern California Area for years with top-tier legal advice and representation across a wide range of practice areas. Attorney Leah Naparstek, who graduated law school with high honors, has accumulated deep hands-on experience in criminal, DUI, and immigration law over the last decade. She has earned admission to numerous bars and law associations and has earned the respect of colleagues and clients alike.

But in the end, what matters most about Leah Legal is that we are passionate about helping people in need, and we are a law firm that is dedicated unreservedly to fighting for you and your best interests. From day one, we work tirelessly and creatively in forming the best possible defense strategy for your case and in undermining the arguments and evidences of the prosecution. We always insist on obtaining the best possible outcome for our client in every case we take on.

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Qualities That Set Leah Legal Apart from the Crowd

When you become our client at Leah Legal, we bring you more than just legal knowledge and experience, we also bring you a dedication to serving your best interests in every possible way. We pride ourselves on a number of specific qualities that set our law firm apart in a crowded industry. These include:

  • Our experience is both deep and wide as to practice areas and is focused exclusively on criminal defense. We are fully familiarized with the specifics of local court processes and even have detailed knowledge of the tendencies of specific judges, prosecuting attorneys, and "expert witnesses" frequently called in by DAs.

  • We do not hesitate to take on your case based on what kind of charge you face. We handle both felonies and misdemeanors, DUI, drug crime, theft, assault & battery, sex crime, and other charges. No case is too big, too small, too easy, or too hard for us to invest our time in it.

  • We take the time to thoroughly investigate the details of every case. This means doing our own "homework" and not just relying on the police report or the prosecution's version of events. We probe for any weaknesses in the evidence to be brought against you and identify any mitigating factors in your favor.

  • We adhere to a high "work ethic." Criminal defense is not a 9-to-5 endeavor. It often takes long, unpredictable hours to best serve our clients, and we take that duty too seriously to stop short of whatever it takes, and however long it takes, to get the job done.

  • Leah or another experienced associate will always handle your case. We do not play the law mill game. A "law mill" in legal talk is a law firm that takes on excessively high numbers of clients all at once and then assigns most of them to inexperienced lawyers. This gains them extra work but is bad for the clients. We always handle your case personally and give you the representation you deserve.

  • Leah Legal brings you the skills of a trial lawyer and negotiator together. This means your chances of a pre-trial dismissal, a plea deal that reduces your charge and/or sentence, or an acquittal are all increased. These two skills complement each other, for only when the prosecution fears going to trial against you do they become more willing to negotiate.

  • We keep ourselves constantly accessible to our clients at all times. We share our cell phone numbers with you and we let you know how to contact us for a fast response and keep you informed of new developments as soon as they occur. Communication is key in winning legal battles, and we always keep multiple lines of communication open.

  • Leah Legal brings you the highest caliber of legal representation but does not charge you exorbitant rates. We keep ourselves affordable and always let our fees be known upfront from the beginning.

We Fight for You Through Every Stage of the Legal Process

All of the advantages mentioned above are brought to bear on behalf of our clients throughout the entirety of the legal process, and we can take over a case no matter what stage it is currently at.

The Arrest

We can assist you from the moment of the arrest, or if you fear you may soon be arrested and/or charged, even before this occurs. Leah Legal can provide you with critical and timely advice on each next step at this critical juncture and help you begin preparing your defense as early as possible. Under certain circumstances we are able to speak with the investigating detective and or the prosecutor and prevent a filing altogether.  When this is not possible, we are often able to prevent an embarrassing arrest by arranging for you to go to the police station to be booked at a certain designated time.

After the arrest, the police report and other information will be handed over to the prosecutor, often a DA. The case will be reviewed to decide if there is enough evidence that the alleged crime even took place and if the defendant is likely the perpetrator.

The Complaint

Normally, the DA will trust the police report and file the charges it supports. At this point he or she will make a formal "complaint" detailing the charge against you.

In some cases, the DA may decide to drop the charges if the evidence seems too weak, or will even agree to a plea bargain to reduce the charges. Thus, already, the legal wheels are beginning to turn, and it pays to have a skilled California defense attorney on scene to press for dismissal or reduction of charges.

The Criminal Arraignment

We can begin building you a solid case long before your arraignment (initial court date), but the arraignment is clearly a critical moment in the overall legal process.

Here, you will be formally read the charge against you by the presiding judge. At this point, you will have to enter a plea of "guilty," "no contest," or "not guilty." It is also at this point that bail will be set if you were not already bailed out earlier.

Understand that your arraignment is not an actual trial as such. But having your lawyer present at the arraignment can greatly affect how your case proceeds. It is possible that violations of your rights will be cited by your defense attorney, which will then lead to evidence against you being thrown out of court and your case being dismissed. It is also possible a favorable plea agreement can be worked out and agreed to at this point, avoiding the need to actually go to trial.

At Leah Legal, we know how to use the time between your arrest and arraignment wisely to maximize your chances of a win without ever going to trial.

The Criminal Preliminary Hearing

If no plea deal takes place at the arraignment, and you plead "not guilty," then your case moves toward trial. But first, your defense attorney will have another chance to fight for you at your preliminary hearing.

Here, the defense finally gets access to the police report and all other evidence given already to the prosecution. This is the "discovery" process, and it better equips us to fight and win your case.

The prosecutor will unveil his or her evidence at the preliminary hearing and seek to persuade the judge that not only was the alleged crime actually committed but that you are very likely the one who committed it. The judge must then decide if this evidence is weighty enough for you to be "held to answer" in a jury trial. If not, the case will be dismissed. This may happen if the witnesses against you are not deemed "credible" or if existing evidence is too heavily "conflicting."

The defense will be given not only the evidence being used against you but also any evidence deemed "exculpatory," meaning seemingly in your favor. It is your right to have such evidence, if it exists, revealed to your defense attorney at the preliminary hearing, and a failure to do so can get your case dismissed.

Note that we at Leah Legal will take this opportunity to seek to have evidence declared inadmissible in court if it was obtained unlawfully. And we will cross-examine witnesses of the prosecution, pinning them down to a single, unchangeable "story." The preliminary hearing is like a miniature trial to determine if there will be an actual trial. The burden of proof is lower, but what happens here can determine what evidence the jury will see and strongly influence how your case is ultimately resolved.

The preliminary hearing can end in a dismissal, a plea deal, or a trial date. But you only have a right to a preliminary hearing if it is a felony charge. With misdemeanors, you would go straight from the arraignment to pre-trial, after which a trial will take place if the case cannot be resolved without one.

The Criminal Trial

At Leah Legal, we have extensive experience in presenting convincing arguments in court, in finding evidence and witnesses in your favor, in calling our own "expert" witnesses to counter those brought in by the prosecution, and in exposing the weaknesses in the case brought against you.

Most cases don't even go to trial, but because of Leah Legal’s strong reputation at this phase, you are more likely to get a dismissal or favorable plea at the arraignment or preliminary hearing.

If a jury trial commences, we will always fight for an acquittal as the first option. We never give up before the battle has even begun, like some so-called defense attorneys. However, we also understand the realities you are facing and know when and how to negotiate for a reduced charge/sentence instead of risking a conviction with a sentence at or close to the maximums.

Thus, it is possible to "win" a case even when a conviction cannot realistically be avoided. This might mean getting a DUI charge reduced to wet reckless, getting jail time exchanged for community service and probation, or receiving a lighter fine. 

By excluding or undermining the reliability of the prosecution's evidence and witnesses from early in the process, we build a foundation for winning the best possible outcome to every case. It can be the difference between a conviction and an acquittal or between a harsh sentence and a much lighter one.

We Are Always Here to Help

We at Leah Legal are here first and foremost to be a "lifeline" to those facing daunting criminal allegations that they don't know how to combat on their own. We turn the tables and put the prosecution at the disadvantage instead of you.

From the moment we answer the phone when you call for a free consultation to moment your case is concluded, we apply both our legal expertise and our most strenuous efforts to winning your case. At every stage of the legal process, every step of the way, we put ourselves in your shoes and fight for you like we would want to be fought for, were our roles reversed.

To learn more about our criminal defense services in your practice area of concern, feel free to call us anytime 24/7/365 at 818-484-1100 for a free, no-obligation legal consultation and immediate assistance when you need it most.

 

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818-484-1100

 

Practice Areas

Assault & Battery

Assault
Assault on a Public Official
Assault with a Deadly Weapon
Assault with Caustic Chemicals
Battery
Battery with Serious Bodily Injury 
Battery on a Peace Officer

Domestic Violence

Aggravated Trespass
Child Neglect / Failure to Provide
Criminal Threats
Child Abduction
Child Abuse
Child Endangerment
Corporal Injury
Domestic Battery
Domestic Violence
Elder Abuse
False Imprisonment
Kidnapping
Posting Harmful Information on the Internet
Restraining Orders
Revenge Porn
Violation of Restraining Order

Driving Offenses

Carjacking
DUI
DUI Causing Injury
DUI With Drugs
DUI With Passenger Under 14
DMV Administrative Hearing
Evading an Officer
Hit and Run
Sencond Offense DUI
Third Offense DUI
Fourth Offense DUI
Suspended License
Underage DUI
Wet Reckless

Drugs

Drug Diversion
Drug Possession
Drug Possession for Sales
Manufacturing Drugs
Marijuana
Possession of Methamphetamine
Possession for Sale
Prescription Drugs
Prop 36
Sales/Transportation
Under the Influence

Firearms

Gun Crimes
Carrying a Loaded Firearm
Weapons Charge

Fraud

Auto Insurance Fraud
Check Fraud
Credit Card Fraud
Health Care Fraud
Identity Theft
Real Estate Fraud
Unemployment Insurance Fraud
Welfare Fraud
Workers Comp Fraud

Property Damage

Arson
Damaging Phone, Electrical or Utility Lines

Sex Crimes

Child Pornography
Indecent Exposure
Lewd Acts With A Child
Lewd Conduct
Prostitution/Solicitation
Rape
Statutory Rape
Sexual Battery

Theft

Auto Burglary (GTA)
Burglary
Burglary of a Safe or Vault
Embezzlement
Grand Theft
Misappropriation of Public Funds
Robbery
Receiving Stolen Property
Shoplifting

Violent Crimes

Manslaughter
Murder

White Collar Crimes

Bribery
Commercial Bribery

Other Crimes

Aiding & Abetting
Animal Abuse
Arson
Arrest Record Sealing
Record Expungement
Record Sealing
Petition to Vacate Murder Conviction

 

Aiding and abetting means offering some form of assistance in the execution of a crime. It entails doing something or saying something that enhances or furthers criminal activity. Aiding and abetting are also known as accomplice liability theory. If you are facing charges for aiding and abetting in Los Angeles, we at Leah Legal can help you fight the charges.

Overview of Aiding and Abetting

You can face charges for aiding and abetting if you help another person to commit a crime. To charge you with the crime of aiding and abetting, the prosecutor has to prove several elements. The prosecutor has to prove that you were aware of the illegal plan of the perpetrator of the crime. The prosecutor has to prove that you intentionally encourage or facilitate the execution of the plan. It must be evident that you took part in aiding or instigating the crime under investigation.

Most people assume that to face charges for aiding and abetting, you must have promoted or encouraged the criminal activity in advance. However, this is not the case; you can commit the crime of aiding and abetting instantaneously as the crime. You may learn about the execution of a crime and instantly encourage, promote, or facilitate the commission of the crime. In such a case, the court may find you guilty of aiding and abetting.

Your conduct of facilitating or promoting a crime does not have to be a substantial factor in the offense. You can be guilty under California Penal Code 31 even if you slightly aided the commission of a crime. Some examples of aiding a crime include acting as a lookout to check whether the scene is clear and warn the crime executors of any danger or presence of law enforcement officers. You may also be guilty of abetting if you keep a car engine running with the intention of helping the criminals vacate the scene of a crime. You may also be liable if you drive the vehicle used by offenders to escape from the crime scene.

You may still face charges under Penal Code 31 PC even if you are incapable of carrying out the crime yourself. For example, a woman may be guilty of rape under Penal Code 31 PC even if it is not possible for a woman to rape another woman. If a woman encourages a man to rape another woman, and even looks out for the man as he commits the offense, the woman may be guilty of aiding and abetting rape. Charges may also apply if a woman encourages another woman to meet in a deserted place with a man with the intention of having the man rape the woman.

Most people confuse the crime of aiding and abetting with the crime of conspiracy. The two crimes are closely related yet very distinct from each other. In the crime of conspiracy, an agreement to participate in committing criminal activity must exist. However, in aiding and abetting, an agreement to participate in a crime is not necessary.

Accomplice Charges

It is important to note that when you commit a crime of aiding and abetting, the prosecutor does not charge you with aiding and abetting. Instead, the prosecutor charges you with the underlying crime. For instance, if you aided the crime of robbery with violence, the prosecutor charges you with robbery with violence. The prosecutor then presents your case on the theory that you aided or abetted the commission of the crime. 

As the court determines whether you acted as an abettor, several factors will count. The court will determine whether you were present at the scene of the crime. The court also determines your companionship with the other executors of the crime. The court also evaluates your conduct before and after the crime under investigation. These three factors will help the court determine whether to charge you as an accomplice. However, these factors are not conclusive. 

Even if you were not at the crime scene, you might still face charges for aiding or abetting a crime. You may also face aiding and abetting charges even if you did not logistically or physically assist in the execution of the crime. As long as it is clear that you promoted, instigated, or encouraged the commission of a crime, you may face these charges. The California Penal Code 31 considers that if you aided in any way, directly or indirectly, the commission of a crime, you are liable to criminal charges. The law also considers if you encouraged the perpetrator by word of mouth or by gestures to carry out the crime. 

For example, your spouse may encourage you to commit insurance fraud by filing a fraudulent personal injury claim. Your spouse forges all the paperwork and files all the necessary claims. All along, you are aware of the fraudulent activities, and you even confirm to the insurance company that you suffered the said damages. You even tell the insurance company that you had received medical treatment yet you had not. You lie that you had taken some time off work and yet you had not. Upon facing fraud charges, you argue that you are not guilty because you did not forge the insurance documents and you did not file the false claims. Although your spouse filled the fake claim documents and filed a fake claim, you may still face charges for aiding and abetting an insurance fraud.

The court may maintain that since you were aware that your spouse filed fake claims on your behalf, you are guilty as well. You were aware of the perpetrator's plan. You also aided the plan of the perpetrator by lying to the insurance company. Therefore, even if you did not physically participate in the crime, you are guilty under the aiding and abetting theory.

Knowledge Alone Does Not Qualify for Aiding and Abetting Charges

At times, you may be aware that an offense is about to occur, and you fail to prevent it. However, this knowledge is not enough to earn you a conviction for aiding and abetting. However, if you have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent the crime, you may face charges. You could face aiding and abetting charges for failing to exercise your legal obligation to prevent a crime.

How can you tell that you have a legal duty to report a crime? Certain people in different professions have legal duties to prevent or report a crime. For instance, doctors, teachers, and other professionals have a legal duty to report suspected criminal activities and abuse. In California, parents also have a legal duty to exercise reasonable supervision, control, protection, and care over their minor children.

You may face charges under California Penal Code 31 if you have a legal duty to prevent crime and you fail to do so or attempt to stop the crime. For example, a defendant watched as her partner molested their five-year-old daughter on several occasions. The defendant did not report the crime or raise awareness of what was happening. Upon facing charges for aiding and abetting lewd acts on a minor, the defendant denied the charges. She argued that she did not take part or encourage the lewd acts on the daughter. However, her presence encouraged the partner to molest the daughter and encouraged her daughter to comply with the act instead of resisting.

The defendant also had a legal duty to protect her daughter because, in California, parents have a legal obligation to protect minor children from harm. Therefore, the defendant will face charges for aiding and abetting. 

Fighting Aiding and Abetting Charges

There are several ways of fighting charges under California Penal Code 31. With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can fight the charges against you.  Some of the most common defenses include:

You Did Not Aid, Encourage, or Facilitate Commission of the Crime

You cannot be guilty of aiding and abetting if you did not facilitate, encourage, or aid the commission of a crime. For instance, you may board a passenger vehicle without knowing that the driver and other occupants are on a mission to execute a crime. The driver parks the vehicle and alights with other occupants leaving you in the vehicle. You are not aware that the driver and the other occupants have proceeded to rob a store. In this situation, you were merely present, and you did not know the intention of the driver and other offenders. You did not do anything to facilitate the perpetrators' plan.

It is common for misunderstandings to occur, making you an accomplice in a crime. The prosecutor may allege that you aided, encouraged, or facilitated a crime, yet you are innocent. If you did not intentionally engage in aiding a crime, you should not face accomplice liability according to California Penal Code 31.

You Were Falsely Accused

In this case, there is no physical proof that you took part in aiding a crime. Therefore, it is easy for another person to accuse you of aiding and abetting a crime while you are innocent. A perpetrator may attempt to divert his/her criminal liability by framing you as the mastermind of the crime. A person may also accuse you of aiding or abetting a crime out of anger, jealousy, or revenge. A criminal defense attorney can use effective ways of investigating and scrutinizing witnesses. With the help of an attorney, you can fight to aid and abetting charges and ensure that the truth comes out. 

Withdrawing from Participation

You can also fight charges for aiding and abetting a crime by asserting that you withdrew from participation in criminal activities. There are many ways of withdrawing from criminal activity. One such way is by notifying perpetrators of the crime or other people involved in executing the crime of your intention to withdraw from the crime. You may also withdraw if you do everything that you are capable of to prevent the crime from going forward.

For example, you and your friend may decide to rob a convenience store. Your role is to be on the lookout as your friend enters the store and threatens the cashier. As you drive towards the store, you decide that you no longer want to take part in the crime. You tell your friend that you are backing out of the crime and even attempt to tell him to do the same. However, your friend is stubborn and decides to execute the crime single-handedly. You call the police and anonymously inform them that a robbery will take place at the store. However, the police arrive late when the robbery has already happened.

In this scenario, the court may determine if you effectively communicated your intention to back out /withdraw from the robbery. You also tried to talk your friend out of the robbery, thus attempting to stop the commission of the crime. The court may drop the robbery charges against you and wet you free.

You may decide to withdraw from the robbery, and you inform your friend of your intention. You even attempt to talk your friend out of the plan but without success. However, instead of informing the police, you decide to go home even if you are aware that your friend will still carry on with the robbery. In this case, you did not do anything to prevent the crime from occurring. Therefore, the court may still consider you an accomplice in the robbery. 

No Legal Duty to Act

You may be aware that a crime is about to take place, and you do nothing to prevent it. However, you cannot face charges unless you had a legal duty to act.  Under the Penal Code 31, you cannot face charges for being an aider or abettor if you had no legal duty to stop the crime. Often, the law confers legal duties upon you. As long as the legal duty does not exist, you can walk free. The mere knowledge of an underlying crime is not enough to make you face aiding and abetting charges. 

Aided the Crime after Its Commission

You can strive for a reduction of your charges by asserting that you only aided/facilitated a crime after its commission. If you facilitate a crime after it is over, you are not an aider or abettor. In this case, you are an accessory after the fact. If you are an accessory after the crime, you are not an accomplice under Penal Code 31, but instead, you are an obstructer of justice.

For an accessory after the fact, you will face a much lower penalty than you would if you were an accomplice in crime. For example, if you aid or abet a crime of carjacking in California, you may face up to 9 years in state prison. However, if you are an accessory after the fact, the longest imprisonment you can face is three years in a California State Prison. 

Acted Under Duress

You may also assert that it was against your will to aid or abet the execution of a crime. You may say that you were under a threat of serious bodily injury or death or yourself or another person, and this made you aid in the commission of the crime.  This defense is known as duress and is a viable defense under many criminal offenses.

Penalties for Aiding and Abetting a Crime

Under California law, there is no difference between the principal perpetrator and the accomplice of a crime. Therefore, for a conviction of aiding and abetting, you will face similar charges as the principal perpetrator of the crime. You will face the same consequences as the person who executed the crime. If you aid a crime after its commission, you will face charges for accessory after the crime. This is a charge on its own and is a misdemeanor or felony under California law.

Natural and Probable Consequences

In some instances, a person who is guilty of a particular crime may be guilty of other crimes that may arise due to your aiding and abetting. The prosecutor may charge you with a related crime as long as he/she can prove that you are guilty of the intended crime. The prosecutor must also prove that in committing the intended crime, you committed a related offense. It must be evident that a reasonable person in your position would have been aware that the related offense was a natural and probable consequence of the intended crime.

Accomplice Liability for Murder

In some instances, an aider or abettor may face greater charges for homicide-related offense than the perpetrator of the offense. The Supreme Court of California recognized this fact. This may happen because, at the time, the defenses that are personal to the perpetrator may not apply to the aider or abettor.  For example, two people may fire shots, and only one shot kills the victim. The killer is the perpetrator of the crime while the other person who shot and missed is the aider or abettor. On facing charges, the perpetrator may argue that he acted in self-defense. The perpetrator may face lower charges of voluntary manslaughter. If the aider is not able to defend himself and faces accomplice charges, he will be guilty of murder while the real killer faces lower charges of voluntary manslaughter. 

Contact A Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

If you are facing Aiding & Abetting charges, the associated penalties are similar to those faced by the principal perpetrator. You don’t have to fight this charge alone. We at Leah Legal in Los Angeles can help you to come up with a proper defense for the charges. Contact us at 818-484-1100 and speak to us today.

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LeahLegal is result-oriented. We seek to help our clients achieve their objectives in the timeliest, most economically feasible and successful manner possible. Our philosophy emphasizes a fierce and uncompromising defense; we believe in meticulous preparation and we're not afraid of hard work and long hours. Above all else, we make sure to find a defensible truth in every case. Our clients never lose sight of the fact that we care about them and their loved ones, as we remain compassionate and sensitive to each of their individual needs.

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LeahLegal is committed to each and every client. Cases do not simply stop at the initial meeting, this is a long road and LeahLegal will be by your side every step of the way. When you sign up with our firm you can rest assured you will be treated with kindness, respect, and honesty while obtaining vigorous criminal representation. Some of our past clients have been wonderful enough to leave testimonials on their experiences dealing with our firm. These are real people who faced some of the same things you are facing at the moment and they decided to lean on LeahLegal to represent them in obtaining the best result imaginable. Read a few client reviews here.

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