What if you have a friend who is a criminal and you help him? It may or may not result in a criminal charge. It depends if the help that you extended may be considered as aiding and abetting your friend in the commission of a crime or being an accessory to the crime. You do not necessarily need to be present with your friend, the offender, commits the crime but you have knowledge of the possibility of the crime being committed. Mere advice or any kind of support, whether by supplying him with some of the items that he may need to perfect the crime or financially, may be considered as the crime of aiding and abetting in the commission of the crime or being an accessory to the crime. If the offender has an active involvement in the planning of the commission of the crime, he may be charged, together with his friend, with conspiracy.
Difference of Aiding and Abetting or Accessory to Conspiracy
Aiding and Abetting in the Commission of a Crime
They generally mean to somehow assist in the commission of a crime or to be an accomplice. You have full knowledge of the fact that your friend has intent to commit the crime and you helped him financially or by extending to him any support to execute the crime, aside from helping in the planning of the crime. It does not necessarily require you to be physically present in the crime scene for you to be charged with aiding and abetting a criminal. You shall be charged with the crime of Aiding and Abetting, and shall be liable together with the offender as a principal.
For example, when you supply your friend with guns and other arms for the commission of the crime of murder. Whether or not you were personally at the crime scene, you are liable as a principal, as an aider or abettor to the commission of the crime of murder.
Accessory to the Crime
An accessory is a person who helps the offender but does not have the same liability as the principal because they do not directly help in the execution of the crime. They may have personal knowledge of the commission of the crime but their participation is as another helping hand, not as a necessary actor in the commission of the crime. An example of this is as a lookout in a robbery.
Conspiracy is the act of 2 or more persons conspiring or confederating together to commit a crime. The mere planning to commit the crime is punishable under the law, even if the crime was not executed. If, in cases where the crime was successful, the crime committed shall be punished separately from conspiracy.
How To Be Free From Any Criminal Liability
If you have personal knowledge of the fact of a crime will be committed by your friend, and you have aided and abetted someone, you may still apply for a withdrawal of the criminal charges against you. The crime must not have happened yet, or before it has become unstoppable, and that you have already stopped your support in the commission of the crime. This may be difficult to prove unless there is an evidence of repudiation, such as communicating with your friend your refusal to further participate in the commission of the crime, or even warning the potential victim. However, some states may require the actual attempt to stop the execution of the crime by notifying officers of the law.
Mere acts in attempting to remove yourself from a crime before it is executed may also help mitigate the punishments you might face. These efforts may convince the prosecution to not charge you with a crime. Coming forward to report the commission of a crime, with clear signs that doing such shall be a threat to your safety, is an example of this.
Make sure to contact a bail agent near you if you or a loved one has been arrested for aiding and abetting!