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What Is an Accessory to a Crime?

What Does It Mean If You Are an Accessory to a Crime?

When a crime is committed, the state does not always rest the sole blame on the individual who committed the crime. Many people can be held responsible for the crime being committed, even if they were not physically there when it happened.

What Is an Accessory to a Crime?

An accessory to a crime is any person who knowingly and willingly aids or assists another individual in committing a crime, but does not actually commit the crime. There are two main kinds of accessories to a crime:

Accessory Before the Fact: A person is an accessory before the fact if they aid a criminal before they commit their crime. This can be giving the principal any kind of help. From lending money to the criminal to simply giving them advice, it is illegal to aid them in carrying out the crime.

Accessory After the Fact: After the crime has been committed, a person is an accessory after the fact if they aid them in any way. Again, this includes any kind of help, even if it is just giving them a place to stay.

Who is Considered a Principal?

The law refers to the main individual responsible for committing a crime as the principal. This is the person who the accessory aids. The law may find the accessory just as guilty as the principal, depending on the degree to which the accessory aided the principal.

Who is Considered an Accomplice?

The main difference between an accomplice and an accessory is that an accomplice is generally present when the crime is committed. Because of this, they can be charged even if the other person who committed the crime is not. An accessory is also more likely to receive a lesser punishment than an accomplice.

Punishment for Being an Accessory to a Crime

The punishment for being an accessory varies. It all depends on the actual crime committed and the degree of help given. In most cases, the punishment will be less than that of the principle’s punishment. However, the judge or jury may find the accessory equally responsible as the principal.

If you or someone you know is facing accessory charges, contact the experienced attorneys at PLM. We are skilled in criminal defense and will fight vigorously for your rights. Call us at 727-478-4125 or schedule your free consultation today.

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