According to a report from the Santa Barbara Independent, Jasmine Ochoa, a 24-year-old woman from Carpinteria, has been arrested and charged with accessory to murder and multiple firearms-related offenses in relation to an April 2021 double murder in Santa Barbara. She is reportedly being held without bail in a California prison. Here, our Santa Barbara homicide defense lawyer provides a more comprehensive overview of the allegations and the charges.
Two Men Were Killed in Santa Barbara's ‘Liberty Street Murders'
In April of 2021, two men—Angel Castillo and Omar Montiel-Hernandez—and two other people were hurt in a shooting at a hotel in East Santa Barbara. Dubbed the ‘Liberty Street Murders' or ‘Liberty Street Killings', the incident made national headlines. Prosecutors contend that the murders were committed to further the interests of a criminal street gang.
In following weeks, several people were arrested, including a man named Angel Varela. Mr. Varela of Ventura, CA is believed to be the shooter in the double homicide. Santa Barbara Police report that Jasmine Ochoa is the girlfriend of Mr. Varela. She is now facing accessory to murder charges and state firearms charged.
An Overview of Accessory to Murder Charges in California
In California, accessory to murder is a criminal offense that occurred when an individual helps a murderer either before or after the homicide. Accessory to murder charges tend to fit into one of two categories:
- Accessory Before the Fact: The charge can be filed against a person helped someone in a manner that contributed to their ability to commit a murder. Accessory before the fact is also known as “aiding and abetting” and it is charged under California Penal Code § 31. It is generally the more severe of the state's two accessory to murder charges. Ms. Ochoa is charged with aiding and abetting.
- Accessory After the Fact: This charge can be filed against a person helped someone conceal or get away with a murder. It is charged under California Penal Code § 32. It is unlawful to harbor, conceal, or otherwise assist someone who committed murder in their effort to evade justice.
With both types of accessory to murder charges, there are two key elements that prosecutors must prove. First, prosecutors must prove knowledge. To convict a person of accessory before the fact, a prosecutor must establish that they knew of the perpetrator's plan to cause harm. To convict a person of accessory after the fact, a prosecutor must prove that the defendant was aware of the crime. The second element is an intentional act. A person is only guilty of the crime of accessory if they intentionally help a perpetrator carry out a crime or evade justice.
Contact Our Santa Barbara Murder and Attempted Murder Defense Attorney Today
At Andrade Law Offices, our Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyer has the professional experience to handle the most serious of felony cases, including murder and attempted murders charges. Contact our law firm today to arrange a strictly confidential initial consultation with a lawyer. With a law office in Santa Barbara, we provide aggressive and solutions-driven criminal defense representation throughout the entire region.