What If You Are An Accessory To A Crime?
Aiding and abetting is a crime you may be charged with if you are accused of assisting in a crime but not necessarily completing it yourself. In popular usage, you might have heard of this as being an "accessory to the crime."
The laws surrounding aiding and abetting vary from state to state. The charges you face depend on the crime you are accused of being party to as well as your location.
What Does It Mean to Be an Accessory?
The accessory to a crime is one who acts with a principal party to assist a crime. In order to be charged as an accessory, you don't necessarily have to be directly involved in the crime. Instead, you may find yourself in a position where you are contributing to a different person's ability to commit a crime.
For instance, somebody might ask you to hide evidence or procure items that will be used in the commission of a crime.
How Does the Prosecution Prove You Are Guilty?
The prosecution may prove that you are guilty of a crime by first showing that the principal crime was committed. Then, the prosecution must demonstrate that you participated in the commission of this crime in some way and that you had knowledge of the principal party's criminal intent. You must have knowingly participated in criminal activity to face these charges
In some cases, you can face charges after the crime was committed. For instance, you might have been told about the crime and then assisted in its aftermath, which can still land you in court facing accessory charges. For instance, a loved one may have come home with a knife they said they used to harm somebody with. You might clean and hide these knives for them, making you an accessory.
What Are the Consequences of Aiding and Abetting?
There are several types of consequences associated with these charges. While you may face a lesser punishment than the individual who committed the principal crime, you could still face time in prison or jail depending on the offense. You may also face financial penalties and other punishments, like house arrest.
Each case is different, and you cannot predict exactly what will happen on your own. It is important to hire a criminal defense lawyer who understands your rights and is willing to represent you in court. Set up a consultation today to learn more about your legal options.