An accomplice is an individual who participates in the commission of a crime knowingly, willingly, and with common interest. An accomplice is one who intentionally aids in the commission of a crime whether or not they physically commit the act itself. An accomplice can be charged with the same crime as the principle actor who carries out the offense. In the eyes of the law, helping someone in the commission of a crime makes one just as guilty as the criminal themselves.
There are many situations in which an accomplice may be involved in the commission of a crime. Take a bank robbery for example. The person who actually enters the bank and takes the money is considered a principle actor in the bank robbery. Those who help the principle actor plan the robbery, finance the operation, drive the robber to the bank, hold the door for him, play a role at the crime scene, drive the getaway car, or harbor the criminal, may all later be charged with the crime.
In law, the accomplice is an individual who is actually present at the scene of the crime but does not actually carry out the crime. An accomplice in the bank robbery example may be a person on the lookout for law enforcement, an individual in the bank who is controlling witnesses, or one helping to gain access to a security vault, etc.
Those who aid in the commission of a crime before or after that actual act are called accessories to the crime. Any person who willingly and intentionally helps a person before the crime is committed is considered and accessory before the fact. For example, the person who provides the principle with maps of the bank, security information, and other details may be considered an accessory before the fact.
An accessory after the fact is someone who knowingly and willingly helps the principle actors and/or the accomplice to evade arrest or trial. For example, the person who harbors the criminals after they have robbed the bank may be considered an accessory after the fact. Just like the accomplice, an accessory before or after the fact may also be charged for the crime that took place.
The consequences of being an accomplice or an accessory to a crime may vary from state to state. In general, for the prosecution to prove that an individual is an accomplice they must prove that the individual intentionally aided in the commission of the crime. Typically a person cannot be charged with being an accomplice for simply being present at the scene of the crime. The prosecution must also show probable cause that the actual crime in question was committed.
The legal consequences of being an accomplice to a crime are complex and largely depend on circumstances and location where the crime took place. There are a few legal defenses when charged with the crime of being an accomplice. If you would like to learn more about the legal matters regarding an accomplice to a crime, please contact a qualified and experienced defense attorney in your area who can determine how best to protect and maximize your legal interests.
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