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Concealing an Accidental Death – Penal Code 152 PC

By Spodek Law Group | July 12, 2021

Concealing an Accidental Death – California Penal Code 152 PC: Overview and Legal Defenses

Have you or someone you know been accused of concealing an accidental death? If so, it is essential to understand the laws and penalties involved. California Penal Code 152 PC makes it a crime to conceal or attempt to conceal an accidental death, and Spodek Law Group’s Attorney Todd Spodek and his team of skilled California criminal defense attorneys are here to help.

What is Concealing an Accidental Death?

Concealing an accidental death refers to any act of hiding a body, destroying evidence, or hiding the objects or instruments that caused the accidental death. Examples of concealing an accidental death include failing to provide information about a body to a police officer, flushing prescription pills down the toilet after a child overdoses, or covering a dead climber with a camouflage tarp.

Legal Definition of Concealing an Accidental Death

To prove guilt, two elements must be established under Penal Code 152 PC: knowledge of the accidental death and active concealment of the death. Active concealment includes performing an “overt act” to conceal the body, destroying or suppressing evidence of the body, or suppressing the instruments used for the accidental death.

Penalties on Conviction

A person found guilty of concealing an accidental death is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of $10,000. Attempting to conceal an accidental death is also a misdemeanor under California Penal Code 664 PC.

The Best Legal Defenses

At Spodek Law Group, we have experience in dealing with all aspects of criminal defense, including the legal defenses that a person can raise when accused of concealing an accidental death. The best legal defenses include showing that the accused was unaware of the death or body or acted under duress.

The “Unaware of Body or Evidence” Defense

This defense applies when a person is unaware of the body or evidence related to the death, despite being near it. For example, if someone walks near a body, but does not see it or any evidence related to the death, it is a solid defense to show that they were unaware of the incident.

The “Duress” Defense

Duress applies when a person commits a crime because they believe their life is in immediate danger due to a threat. It applies in limited situations where a person commits a crime because somebody threatened to kill them if they did not commit the crime.

Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing for Concealing an Accidental Death

Any person found guilty of concealing or attempting to conceal an accidental death will face a misdemeanor charge, punishable by a fine of $10,000 and up to one year in county jail.

Related Offenses

There are three related crimes to concealing an accidental death under Penal Code 152 PC: involuntary manslaughter, accessory after the fact, and destroying or concealing evidence. Involuntary manslaughter, in particular, carries more severe penalties than concealing an accidental death.

Contact Spodek Law Group for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one is accused of concealing an accidental death, Spodek Law Group’s skilled California criminal defense attorneys are here to help. We offer a free consultation in person or by phone and serve clients throughout California, including the greater Los Angeles area, the San Fernando Valley, Orange County, Ventura, Long Beach, Riverside, Pasadena, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, San Diego, Napa County, Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Jose. Don’t wait; contact us today to discuss your legal options.

Meaning of Accidental Death

An accidental death is one caused by unexpected and unforeseen means. The preceding act or occurrence must have an element of unexpectedness that leads to the death. Some examples of accidental deaths include motor vehicle accidents, falls, drowning, fires, firearms, and industrial accidents.

Attempt to Conceal

In addition to concealing an accidental death, California Penal Code 152 PC also criminalizes attempting to conceal an accidental death. Under Penal Code 664 PC, a person can be convicted of an attempted crime in the California criminal court process. A conviction for attempted concealment carries half the sentence of the actual offense, whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony. If the actual offense carries a sentence of life in prison or the death penalty, the defendant may face five, seven, or nine years in prison.

Meaning of Overt Act

Performing an overt act is one way a person can actively conceal an accidental death. According to PC 152 (b) (1), an overt act can either conceal the body or directly hinder the ability of authorities or family members to discover the body. An overt act is an act done to further or advance a crime, and it shows the aim to accomplish the crime. For instance, buying a ski mask is a basic act. However, it becomes an overt act if the person purchased it with the intention of robbing a bank.

Contact the Skilled Attorneys at Spodek Law Group

If you or a loved one is facing charges for concealing an accidental death or any other criminal offense, don’t hesitate to contact Spodek Law Group. Our skilled California criminal defense attorneys have a deep understanding of the law and can help you navigate the legal process. We offer a free consultation in person or by phone, and we are committed to providing the best possible outcome for our clients. Contact us today to discuss your legal options.

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