You don’t have to be physically present or directly involved in a crime to be charged for it. If you helped the commission of a crime in any way, you could be accused of being an accessory to the crime.
You can be an accessory to a crime in two ways – before or after the crime was committed. While it is a lesser charge than that of committing the actual crime, accessory charges can carry hefty sentences depending on the case.
Elements of an accessory charge
The main features of accessory charges are:
- The commission of the actual crime
- You were aware of the crime
- You assisted in one way or the other with your conduct, before or after the crime was committed
You must have known about the crime, and your actions helped its commission, legally known as an accessory before the fact. Equally, if you helped cover up a crime or aided the perpetrator to evade law enforcement, even financially, you could face after-the-fact accessory charges.
Defending against accessory charges
When it comes to defending against accessory charges, your defense is pegged on the facts and circumstances of the original crime and your connection to it. At the same time, you need to be aware of your legal rights and protect them throughout the trial. You can successfully defend against accessory charges with a solid defense strategy. Remember, the prosecution has to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction, and poking holes in the evidence may increase the chances of a favorable outcome in your case.