When you think of “rescuing” someone from prison, you probably think of daring escapes and getaway cars. While both can play a role in what the state of California views as “rescuing,” it’s not a comprehensive definition.
Penal Code 4550 makes it clear that you can face criminal charges for even discussing the possibility of helping a loved one escape from jail or prison. What are you supposed to do if you face accusations of rescuing a prisoner? Call Simmrin Law Group. Our criminal defense lawyers can assess the accusations leveled against you and challenge them in court.
Identifying Prisoners in California’s Justice System
According to PC 4550, the term “prisoner” describes more than one kind of person in California’s justice system. A person may be considered a prisoner if they are:
- Incarcerated at a county jail
- Held at a California State prison
- Held in a prison road camp
- In the custody of California law enforcement
This means that any action taken to aid these parties can, in the eyes of the law, be seen as a rescue attempt.
For a free legal consultation with a rescuing a prisoner lawyer serving California, call (310) 928-9347
Defining “Rescuing” in California
While “rescuing” a prisoner may first make you think of a physical assault against a prison, that’s not the only way California residents have tried to reach their loved ones before. With that in mind, the state considers all of the following to constitute “rescuing.” In turn, you may face criminal charges for any behaviors that could be categorized as:
The assault of an officer or state representative is enough to get you in trouble on its own. Attempting to assault an officer in an attempt to rescue a friend or loved one can see you face compounded criminal charges.
What constitutes assault in California? The state elaborates on its definition of the term in PC 240. It describes the willful application of force onto another person or party. These behaviors can include:
- Tackling a security guard
- Threatening a court bench
- Causing damage to the California government’s property
For example, both injuring a security guard and damaging a prison bus can constitute assault by California’s understanding. If these alleged behaviors PAIR with an attempt to free a loved one from incarceration, parties charged with this behavior can face more severe fines and prison time than anyone who engaged in either assault or attempted rescue alone.
People who fall under the aforementioned definition of prisoner are still protected by the constitution of the United States. This does not mean that the things that a prisoner says won’t have consequences, though.
Prisoners and their loved ones cannot discuss escaping from confinement when a loved one comes to visit. Similarly, mention of escape plans can see visitors and family members alike brought up on charges of rescuing a prisoner, even if no rescue attempt is made.
California takes perceived threats to its security seriously. In turn, the state will level felony charges against someone who it believes may soon do harm to one of their institutional facilities.
Staff at California’s institutional facilities may not accept bribes in exchange for a prisoner’s early release. Staff members who are offered bribes are obligated to report those offers to their superiors. Both you and your loved one could face compounded consequences as a result.
California Rescuing a Prisoner Lawyer Near Me (310) 928-9347
Penalties for Attempting to Rescue a Prisoner
Attempting to rescue a prisoner constitutes a felony offense. You may face up to four years in prison for attempting to break a friend or loved one out of prison. Your incarceration will vary depending on both the severity of your actions and the place in which your target was held.
For example, attempting to rescue a person who was sentenced to death can see you imprisoned in a county jail for between two and four years. Comparatively, attempting to rescue a person who was imprisoned for life or a shorter sentence can see you spend between sixteen months and three years imprisoned.
Defending Against Accusations of Rescuing a Prisoner
You are permitted to defend yourself if you’re accused of attempting to rescue a prisoner and violating Penal Code 4550. A criminal defense attorney in California can plead your case before a court. Some of the most common defenses used in California’s attempted rescue cases include:
Operating Out of Necessity
Attempting to rescue a prison “out of necessity” allows a person to effectively plead both innocent and guilty. If a person can indicate that they had good reason to violate California state law, the charges brought against them may be reduced or dropped.
In most cases, “good cause” rescue operations work most effectively when they cite an emergency as their driving force. While you still may face consequences for attempting to help a prisoner in an emergency situation, you can work with a criminal defense attorney to mitigate the worst of those reactions.
No Probable Cause
To arrest you for attempted rescue, law enforcement representatives must have probable cause. Without enough evidence to indicate a rescue plan or something similar, police officers and legal professionals cannot punish you for your alleged behavior.
An attorney can work with the court system to remove any evidence related to your case that was gathered without probable cause. In turn, the charges brought against you could grow less severe. Under certain circumstances, the charges may be dropped altogether.
You can only argue that your confession was coerced after you’ve been charged with rescuing a prisoner. You can reach out to a criminal defense lawyer and present evidence of any overbearing measures conducted by the police officers responsible for your care.
If you present ample evidence of mistreatment or coercion, a court may scratch your confession from the record. Alternatively, the case against you may be dropped entirely.
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Connect With a California Criminal Defense Attorney to Contest Rescuing Charges
Almost everyone wants to support their loved ones during times of crisis. There is a difference, however, between supporting a loved one and violating the law. Fortunately, Simmrin Law Group recognizes the instances in which the law may misinterpret acts of compassion as criminal behavior.
If you need to contest rescuing charges under California PC 4550, contact one of the criminal defense attorneys with our team. We’ll discuss your situation during a free case consultation and support your defense in and out of court. You can reach our team over the phone or contact us online today.