Are you facing charges for aiding and abetting a crime? Are you worried that your connection to a criminal or a crime could land you in legal trouble? States have various laws on the books to make sure that all participants in a crime are charged appropriately. Those laws often distinguish between principals and accessories. Principals are those who actually commit the crime in question. Accessories are those who assist the principal in committing the crime or covering it up. In some cases, an accessory may face the same penalties as a principal. In others, the accessory could face reduced penalties. To be found guilty as an accessory, the following three criteria must be in place:
Another person committed the crime. To be an accessory, there can't be any questions as to whether or not you committed the crime. For instance, if the crime is burglary and both you and the principal were in the home during the robbery, it may be ambiguous as to who is actually the principal. The court may see both of you as principals, even if the other person was the one who physically stole everything.
However, if you were waiting in the getaway car or were standing outside as a lookout, then you clearly weren't the principal. Whether that makes a difference in terms of sentence depends on the state and the court. However, to be an accessory, it must be clear that you weren't the principal.
You had knowledge of the crime. To be an accessory, you have to know that a crime took place. If you unwittingly helped a criminal without knowledge that the person was a criminal, then it will likely be difficult for you to be found guilty of being an accessory. This often happens in accessory after-the-fact cases. Assume that your friend asked if they could stay on your couch for a few days and you allow them to do so. Only later do you learn that the friend was hiding from the police because they had committed a crime. In this case, you likely aren't an accessory. However, if you knew or suspected that they had committed a crime and still let them stay with you, then you could be an accessory.
You provided some form of assistance. This may seem like an obvious point, but it's often the biggest one in determining an accessory's sentence. Did you simply provide the principal with food or shelter after the crime? Or did you do something more proactive, like driving a getaway car or cutting security lines? If you were an active participant, you may be found just as responsible as the principal.
If you're concerned about your role or association with a crime, talk to a criminal lawyer. They can review the case and advise you on how best to proceed.Share
7 January 2015
People with an eye for property can make a great deal of money buying a house, fixing it up and then selling it for a profit. However, there are many legal issues involved in this kind of pursuit. I am an attorney with experience in real estate, and I have helped many clients learn the legal details involved in flipping property. This blog will help you understand what you need to know when you are buying and selling a home as well as information about paying taxes on money made and property owned. Flipping houses can be a very profitable activity as long as you know how to do it legally.