To be considered an accessory to a crime, one must intentionally participate in the commission of a crime. This does not mean you must be a part of the crime itself but before, during, or after, if you have contributed in any way to the commission of a crime, you are an accessory.
There are factors that a prosecutor must consider in order to make a conviction for an accessory to a crime, such as:
- The person was not the party that committed the crime
- This person’s action did in fact assist the person as it pertains to the crime committed
- The person was aware of their actions being necessary to commit the crime
For example, if you are aware that someone intends to commit a crime and they come to you beforehand to ask that you assist them in the preparation of the act, you are an accessory to the crime. It does not always have to be violent crimes. If you are the manager at a grocery store, and a friend of yours is struggling to provide for their family and ask that you leave the back door of the store unlocked during your shift so that they may enter the store from the front and act as a regular customer, only to take the items through the back of the store without paying, you may not have taken the items yourself, but you have made the commission of a crime possible, which makes you an accessory.
Even if there was no crime committed, your part in assisting in making the crime possible is still reason for a prosecutor to file charges against you. If a prosecutor can in fact prove that you or the person accused had knowledge of a crime being committed and possible with their assistance, you may be proven guilty.
For example, the grocery store robbery may have already been committed and you were not the store manager, but you were the person waiting in the car behind the store for the person that was committing the crime to come out. As they loaded the vehicle with the stolen goods, you drove the car away from the facility. In this example you are an accessory because you knew they were stealing goods, you waited for the car to be loaded, and you assisted in escaping from the scene of the crime. If you were waiting in the parking lot for your roommate or friend to shop and they returned with stolen items and you were unaware that they did not pay, it is unlikely that you will be seen as an accessory to the commission of this crime.
In the event that you or someone you know has been accused of being an accessory to a crime, or even if you are aware of a crime being committed and feel that you may have played a role in this and have concerns that you may ultimately be accused, speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney, like one from the Lynch Law Group, in your area as soon as possible.