Charged with Aiding and Abetting or Being an Accessory? Your Next Steps
People accused of helping someone commit a crime fall into two categories: aiders and abettors, and accessories. If you have been charged with either aiding and abetting a crime or being an accessory, you probably have questions about these legal terms.
An aiding and abetting charge means that prosecutors think the accused encouraged someone to commit a crime or advised him or her in its commission. To prove these charges, the prosecution must show that the aider and abettor acted with criminal intent or that he or she had knowledge of the person who committed the crime’s criminal intent.
In other words, an aider and abettor must help out the person who ends up committing the crime in some way to aid and abet. They do not have to participate in the actual crime to face charges. Nor do they have to intend to commit a crime. Prosecutors can prove their case if they show that the aider and abettor knew another person planned to commit a crime and helped him or her out.
Oklahoma law provides that an aider and abettor may receive the same punishment as the person who actually committed the crime. 21 O.S. § 172. The statute does not distinguish among the many degrees to which someone could have aided in the commission of a crime. It sets a blanket punishment.
An accessory charge means that prosecutors think the accused helped someone get away with a crime after he or she committed it. To prove the charges, the prosecution needs to show that the accused aided or concealed a person who committed a felony, that the accused knew the person committed a felony, and that the accused intended to help the person “avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment”. 21 O.S. § 173.
Sentences for being an accessory vary depending on the underlying felony committed. For example, if the underlying felony has a sentence of 4 years or more, a person found guilty of being an accessory will receive a sentence of no more than half the longest sentence allowed for the underlying felony. If the underlying felony is first-degree murder, the accessory can be sentenced to 5 to 45 years’ imprisonment.
After being charged for aiding and abetting or being an accessory, your next step should be to seek legal representation. A lawyer can develop defenses to your charges, make a deal with the prosecutor, or take your case to trial. Your future could depend on having the right person by your side in court.
If you are facing criminal charges, seek out an attorney who knows the Oklahoma criminal law system inside and out. Clint Patterson, Esq., of Patterson Law Firm, a former Tulsa prosecutor now using his trial experience and inside knowledge to defend Oklahomans, has the experience and the insight to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case. To schedule a case evaluation, visit Patterson Law Firm online or call Clint’s office at (918) 550-9175.