Aiding and abetting someone in committing a crime is usually just as bad as committing the crime yourself, in the eyes of the law. If you were associated with a criminal act, you may soon find yourself facing charges as well, even if you were not the one who actually committed the crime. Many people spend time in jail or face high criminal fines because of their participation in a crime as an accomplice.
Charges for being an accomplice to a crime can come in many forms with many varied potential punishments. These charges could hurt your future, potentially landing you in prison or strapping you with a criminal record. For help fighting the charges against you for being an accomplice or accessory to a crime, call our Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys for accomplice charges. Overson Law and our attorney, Darwin Overson, offer free legal consultations to help potential clients understand the charges they face and what legal options they have to fight the charges against them. For your free legal consultation, call us today at (801) 758-2287.
Types of Accomplices and Charges for Participating in a Crime
There are many different names for someone who helps someone else commit a crime. In many cases, the results are the same: anyone who commits a crime or helps commit a crime can be charged with the offense. No matter how you participated in the crime, the fact that you helped pull off the crime means that you could be held accountable for the offense. In addition, you may face additional charges for conspiracy to commit the crime or other crimes you committed to help with the underlying crime. Our criminal defense lawyer breaks down some of the names for accomplices and what these labels mean for your charges:
“Accomplice” is the label for someone who helps someone else commit a crime. Accomplices can be partners in crime who work together to do something illegal, or the term can refer to someone who, without being asked, makes it easier for you to commit the crime. In most cases, accomplices can each be charged with committing the crime as though they committed it all by themselves.
“Accessory Before the Fact”
Like an accomplice, an “accessory” to a crime is another person who helped the crime happen. Calling someone an “accessory before the fact” means that they helped commit the crime before it happened, typically referring to someone who was involved with planning and carrying out the crime. Accessories before the fact can be charged with the crime as though they committed it themselves.
“Accessory After the Fact”
An “accessory after the fact” is someone who joined in helping someone with a crime after it already occurred. This can refer to people who help clean up or hide evidence, who delay or obstruct police to help the perpetrator get away, or who otherwise help keep the crime from being discovered or stop the criminal from being caught. Accessories after the fact can usually be charged with the crime as though they committed it themselves, but they can also face charges for obstruction of justice or other offenses they commit in the course of impeding the investigation or arrest.
A co-conspirator is an accomplice to a crime that was involved in the planning and agreed to help commit the crime. A “conspiracy” to commit a crime does not have to be a large, secret project. Instead, it is defined simply as an agreement to commit a crime followed by a step taken toward committing the crime. This would mean that agreeing with a friend to commit a crime and taking steps toward planning the crime could be enough for you to be labeled a co-conspirator and charged with conspiracy. Even if the underlying offense fails or is abandoned, you may still be convicted of conspiracy for the agreement and the steps you already took. Co-conspirators are typically liable for anything another conspirator does during the course of committing the crime, even if it wasn’t an explicit part of the agreement, e.g., shooting a store clerk during a robbery.
Fighting Conspiracy and Accomplice Charges in Utah
For prosecutors to convict someone of being an accomplice or for conspiring to commit a crime, they must typically prove that they had knowledge that a crime was committed. A person cannot typically be held accountable as an accomplice if they did not suspect that a crime took place. You may also be able to challenge accomplice charges if you did not know that your actions would aid or abet a crime or you did what you did for some other legitimate purpose. These kinds of rules can often help protect people from charges for doing things like treating someone’s wounds or giving them a ride without knowing that they were on the run from the police.
Charges for conspiracy require more specific proof that the defendant agreed to participate in the criminal activity and actually took steps to further the crime. Your lawyer can help fight these charges by challenging these accusations.
In many cases, your lawyer can also fight the charges against you or work to reduce charges and penalties. One way to do this is by arranging an agreement where you will testify against your accomplices in exchange for reduced charges or a lower sentence. You may also be able to reduce penalties if you were less involved in the crime; someone who merely helped commit a crime often receives lower penalties than the leader who planned the crime or organized the conspiracy.
Call Our Salt Lake City Defense Lawyer for Help with Your Utah Aiding and Abetting Charges
If you were accused of being an accessory to a crime or an accomplice to a criminal offense, you could face the same penalties as anyone else involved in the commission of the crime. For help fighting these charges and distancing yourself from criminal activity, contact the Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney for accomplice charges at Overson Law today. Our criminal defense lawyer offers free legal consultations to help you understand your options and what we can do to help fight the charges you face. To schedule a free legal consultation, call us today at (801) 758-2287.