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Helping someone commit a crime is a crime

It is possible to face charges for a crime even if you didn't specifically commit it and weren't even present when it was committed. These charges usually involve aiding and abetting or being an accessory after the fact.

People can face these charges whether they assisted the perpetrator before and/or after the crime. An example of these charges would be if you knew when a family member's house was going to be empty, provided someone with a security key code and told those intending to rob it where valuable jewels were kept. Perhaps you let the thieves hide the goods they stole in your garage. Any of these activities would be considered a crime.

To get a conviction for aiding and abetting, prosecutors have to prove that:

-- A crime was committed-- The accused helped, provided advice or induced a person to commit the crime.-- The accused intentionally facilitate that crime.-- These actions took place before the perpetrator finished committing the crime.

To convict someone as an accessory after the fact, prosecutors must prove that the accused knew a crime was committed and did something to try to prevent the perpetrator from being apprehended or punished.

People who can show that they tried to get out of the situation before the crime was committed or became unstoppable may get some leniency from prosecutors. This is called a withdrawal defense.

However, it may not be enough to just say that you ended your support for the crime (which can be difficult to prove). It's better if you can show that you did something to prevent the crime, such as calling the police.

If you are charged with aiding and abetting a crime or with being an accessory after the fact, it's essential to seek experienced legal guidance. Depending on the situation, you may be able to mitigate the charges or even get them dropped.

Source: FindLaw, "Aiding and Abetting/Accessory," accessed May 04, 2017

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