California Penal Code Section 152 – Concealment of Accidental Death1

California law sets forth misdemeanor punishment for any person who conceals or attempts to conceal an accidental death.

Elements of a Penal Code Section 152 Violation:

    1. The defendant knew of the accidental death of another person;
    2. The defendant actively concealed or attempted to conceal the death.2

“Active Concealment” Defined:

  1. The defendant performed an act that concealed the body, or prevented police or family members from locating the body, or
  2. The defendant destroyed the body or bodily fluids to conceal the death, or
  3. The defendant destroyed the mechanism or means of death in an effort to conceal the accidental passing of the victim.3

Punishment for Penal Code Section 152 Violation:

  • Misdemeanor punishment of up to one year in a county jail.
  • Fine ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.4

Commentary – Penal Code Section 152:

A search of California case law indicates that Section 152 is rarely used.  Any person or business owner suspected of violating Penal Code Section 152 should contact an attorney as soon as possible.  In addition to misdemeanor punishment, any person subject to the statute may also face civil liability under a number of theories.

About the Author:

Attorney William Haney practices law in Ventura County.  Mr. Haney is a former supervising prosecutor and major crimes attorney in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.  He also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Pepperdine University School of Law.

Sources Cited / Notes:

1 Article published May 2, 2018.
2 Penal Code Section 152; see also 2 Witkin, Cal.Crim.Law 4th Crimes — Govt. Section 23 (2012)
3 Penal Code Section 152.
4 Penal Code Section 152.

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