Brent M. Brumley | Attorney At Law
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Accessory crimes explained

On Behalf of | Jun 22, 2023 | Criminal Law |

Although someone might not commit a crime, they can still face charges for assisting another person with a criminal act. In such situations, the defendant would face an accessory charge. Persons arrested on felony accessory charges may face significant jail time if the prosecutor proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Types of accessory charges

Before the fact crimes involve knowing someone intends to commit a crime and helping in some way. A person who watches a grocery store to determine the busiest time before a robbery on the armed robber’s behalf might fall under this legal definition. Giving someone a firearm to commit an armed robbery may lead to before-the-fact accessory charges.

When the accessory charges are after the fact, the accusations will center on whether the defendant helped someone after they committed a crime. Giving a wanted fugitive money to leave town or eliminating evidence could lead to accessory charges.

Someone charged with accessory-related crimes might be unaware that the other party does not need to commit a crime for the accessory charges to have validity. Conspiracies to commit crimes might also lead to legal woes.

Defenses to accessory charges

As with all criminal charges, proof of accessory crimes must rise to guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction. If the defense can prove the defendant did not know about the crime or its planning, reasonable doubt could exist. For example, the accused might not realize he/she is harboring a fugitive.

Also, there must be proof of intent for the charges to have merit. Giving someone money for a plane ticket does not rise to accessory to a crime when not realizing the person intends to flee law enforcement or travel somewhere to commit a crime.