Aiding and Abetting
Aiding and abetting is a criminal charge given to someone who helped commit or cover up a crime. It is sometimes also called an accessory. For example, if John loan Dan gun knowing that Dan will rob a bank, John is liable for aiding and abetting in robbery.
The person charged with aiding and abetting is usually not present during the crime, but they will have had knowledge of the crime at some point. They may have helped the perpetrator by giving advice, providing support, or taking action. If the person provided a lot of support, the aiding and abetting charge might be upgraded to conspiracy.
For example, if someone lets the perpetrator store stolen goods on their property or gives them information knowing how they plan to use it, they will be charged with aiding and abetting.
How Does the Law Define Aiding and Abetting?
Each state has different laws that define and penalize aiding and abetting or accessory charges. However, we will discuss the general definitions.
Aiding and abetting is encouraging a crime and offering some support before or during the crime. Accessory or accessory after the fact is defined as protecting the perpetrator once they have committed the crime.
To receive a charge of aiding and abetting, the prosecutor must prove that:
- A crime was committed
- The defendant counseled, induced, procured, commanded, or aided the crime
- The intention of the defendant was to help the crime occur
- The defendant’s actions occurred before or during the crime
To receive a charge of accessory after the fact, the prosecutor must prove that:
- The defendant knew that the perpetrator had committed a crime
- The defendant helped to cover up or otherwise hinder the arrest or punishment of the perpetrator
If the prosecutor cannot prove one of the above elements, then the defendant will not be charged or convicted with aiding and abetting or accessory after the fact.
Defenses For Aiding and Abetting
The most common defense for an aiding and abetting charge is a withdrawal defense. This can be used if the defendant withdrew their support or assistance before the crime occurred, with enough time to prevent the crime from happening. This can be difficult to prove unless there is evidence of this. In some states, the defendant must have taken a step to prevent the crime, like notifying the police.
Any efforts taken by the defendant to remove their support will help to reduce the penalty for the crime. The prosecutor can use their discretion when suggesting charges and penalties for aiding and abetting. They will take into account things like threats to your safety and any actions you took to prevent the crime.