What can happen to me if I unknowingly gave someone a ride just after they committed a crime?

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What can happen to me if I unknowingly gave someone a ride just after they committed a crime?

Someone I know called and asked if I could pick them up and give them a ride. It wasn’t until some time later that I found out that they had broken into a home and that’s the numberthat they called me from. I had no idea what they had done when they called and asked for a ride and they did not have any of what was stolen with them when I picked them up. Is there anything I could possibly be charged with even though I had no idea what they had done, and told authorities everything that happened after being questioned?

Asked on May 9, 2011 under Criminal Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A criminal act--such as helping someone to escape, or being an accomplice or accessory to a crime--generally requires criminal intention as well, though criminal intention can sometimes be inferred from "willful blindness"--i.e. deliberately not "knowing" what's going on when any reasonable person should have known.

In theory then, if you did not know of the crime, you should not face criminal liabilty for giving the other person a ride or having stolen goods in the car. In practice, a lot will depend on the situation, and whether the authorities believe you did not know, or think that you must have known--and believe they can prove that. You may wish to consult with a criminal defense attorney.


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