If you pay even a small amount of attention to our judicial system, or you stay abreast with the latest high profile criminal court cases, then you’ve probably heard about someone being charged as an accessory to a crime. While this term might conjure up images of drivers of getaway cars, it can actually take a lot less to be charged as an accessory.
To be convicted as an accessory, the prosecution must prove that a person willingly participated in the crime. Just because the person was not present at the scene of crime, they can still be held accountable for knowing about, and contributing to, the crime. A person may also be charged as an accessory before or after the fact if they had knowledge and participated in the planning or covering up of the crime. Conversely, if the defendant didn’t actually know that they were aiding a criminal before or after a crime, then they cannot be found guilty as an accessory.
An accessory before the fact is someone who assists, aids and abets, or even encourages the other person to commit the crime. This also includes someone who contributes to the preparation of the crime by either purchasing or making a weapon for the other person to use during the crime. An accessory after the fact is someone who sheltered or assisted the criminal after the crime was committed. For example, if you drove a getaway car, even though you weren’t present at the crime, you were an accessory after the fact. Even if the crime wasn’t completed, just having the intent to assist someone in the aftermath of a crime can be enough to warrant a guilty verdict.
An accessory charge could result out of any actions that were taken with the intent to assist someone before, during, or after a crime. If you’re facing criminal accessory charges, then you need to contact a criminal defense attorney quickly to begin building your defense. To work with an experienced attorney who is eager to fight for your rights, contact Hilf & Hilf, PLC today to schedule a free consultation.