What are the differences between civil and criminal aiding and abetting? Most people are familiar with the crime of aiding and abetting from crime shows. It is the charge given to someone who assists or encourages someone to commit a crime. Someone can even be charged with aiding and abetting if they help someone to commit suicide. They can also be charged with aiding and abetting when they were directed to commit a crime or were working with someone to commit a crime. For example, if someone procures the plans for a building for robbers or leaves a door open to let them in. The conduct is similar in civil aiding and abetting, but the differences are the burden of proof and damages.
Civil Aiding and Abetting
Aiding and abetting can be applied to civil cases, where the person being charged holds some liability for the part they play, but not enough to be charged in the civil lawsuit. This is called civil accessory liability in law. To successfully prove civil aiding and abetting, the plaintiff must prove three things:
- The defendant in the civil lawsuit caused harm to the plaintiff because of their breach of duty
- The person accused of civil aiding and abetting helped the defendant in their breach of duty
- The person accused of aiding and abetting was aware that they were helping the defendant to breach their duty to the plaintiff
Does the Prosecutor Need to Prove Intent For Aiding and Abetting Charges?
The prosecutor must show that the defendant knew that their actions would assist someone in committing a crime. If the defendant thought there was a lawful reason why they were being asked to do a favour, they would not be convicted of aiding and abetting. Also, the crime must have occurred; the defendant cannot be convicted of aiding and abetting if the crime was not committed.
Criminal Aiding and Abetting
Aiding and abetting is more common in criminal cases and is charged when there is no evidence to show that the person specifically carried out the crime, but they played a part in the crime. This is laid out in USC Section 2, Title 18.
It is interesting to note that even if the defendant in the original crime is not found guilty, someone may be found guilty of aiding and abetting the crime. This is because the charge is aiding and abetting a crime, not an individual person.
When proving aiding and abetting charges, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant’s action or inaction indicates that they wanted the crime to succeed. Whether it was an act of omission or an action they took to help the crime, they can be charged with aiding and abetting.
Criminal Aiding and Abetting Penalties
Aiding and abetting is a serious crime, and you should take it seriously if you are facing charges. Speak to a skilled criminal defense attorney about your case so they can help you. If you are convicted of aiding and abetting, you receive harsh penalties, such as:
- Fines of up to $5,000
- Misdemeanor jail time up to 1 year
- Felony jail time of up to 3 years
The prosecutor and the court will determine if the aiding and abetting charge is a misdemeanor or felony based on the circumstances of the crime.
Civil Aiding and Abetting Damages
The word “damages” is a legal word for money. Aiding and abetting damages are awarded to compensate a plaintiff for all of the damages suffered as a legal result of the defendant’s wrongful conduct. “Damages” are monetary compensation awarded to parties who suffer detriment for the unlawful act or omission of another; they are assessed by a court against wrongdoers for the commission of a legal wrong of a private nature.