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Understanding accomplice charges

When it comes to being held liable for a crime, often those who did not even commit a direct offense can be prosecuted for the having enabled the crime to take place. In the eyes of the law, those who are viewed as enablers or encouragers are considered accomplices in a crime, and may share as much guilt in the eyes of the court as the individual who actually commits a crime. Courts may consider an individual to be an accomplice if he or she either actively encourages and enables a crime, or even simply fails to prevent it.

There are several components a prosecutor must demonstrate when accusing a person of being an accomplice to a crime. The prosecution must show that the central crime was committed by another person, that the accused accomplice was mentally capable of participating and understanding his or her actions, and that the accused "aided, counseled, commanded, or encouraged" the individual who committed the central crime in some way.

It is worth noting that being accused of being an accomplice is separate from being accused of conspiracy to commit a crime. Conspiracy generally means that two or more individuals worked together to plan a crime ahead of time. Contrastingly, an accomplice is somehow involved in committing the crime instead of only planning it. This may mean the difference between planning out a robbery (conspiracy) and serving as the getaway driver for that same robbery.

There are many ways that a person may take actions that look as though he or she is an accomplice, when in fact he or she never intended to participate in a crime. If you have been accused of being an accomplice to a crime, it is vital to enlist the best help you can get to fight these accusations. an experienced and qualified attorney can help you fight unfair charges while protecting your rights throughout the process.

Source: Findlaw, "What is Complicity or Accomplice Liability?," accessed Dec. 20, 2016

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