California Penal Code 153 PC prohibits “compounding a crime,” which is taking money or something of value in exchange for concealing a crime, withholding evidence of the crime, or abstaining from prosecuting the crime. Compounding a felony can be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor. But compounding a misdemeanor is always a misdemeanor.
The full text of the statute reads as follows:
PC 153 Every person who, having knowledge of the actual commission of a crime, takes money or property of another, or any gratuity or reward, or any engagement, or promise thereof, upon any agreement or understanding to compound or conceal that crime, or to abstain from any prosecution thereof, or to withhold any evidence thereof, except in the cases provided for by law, in which crimes may be compromised by leave of court, is punishable as follows:
1. By imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, where the crime was punishable by death or imprisonment in the state prison for life;
2. By imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, where the crime was punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for any other term than for life;
3. By imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months, or by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), where the crime was a misdemeanor.
California Penal Code 153 PC prohibits people who know about a crime to take something of value in exchange for:
- compounding or concealing the crime,
- abstaining from prosecuting the crime, or
- withholding evidence of the crime
A person can commit PC 153 merely for promising to take money or property for compounding or concealing a crime, even if the money or property never exchanges hands.1
The punishment for compounding a crime depends on the underlying offense:
|Underlying Offense||Penalty for Compounding Underlying Offense (PC 153) |
|Felony carrying a life sentence or death|| |
|Felony carrying any prison term other than for life|| |
|* Compounding a felony is a wobbler, meaning that it can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor|
The most effective defenses to PC 153 charges is that the defendant had no actual knowledge of the underlying crime or that he/she never agreed to take money, property, etc. in exchange for compounding or concealing the crime. Typical evidence in these cases includes recorded communications, video surveillance video, and eyewitness accounts.
- California Penal Code 153 PC – Compounding crimes. See also Hoines v. Barney’s Club, Inc. (Cal., 1980), 28 Cal. 3d 603, 170 Cal. Rptr. 42, 620 P.2d 628. See also Bowyer v. Burgess (Cal., 1960), 54 Cal. 2d 97, 4 Cal. Rptr. 521, 351 P.2d 793.
- PC 153.
- PC 153.