Quality Legal Services For New Jersey’s Citizens

What’s an accomplice to a crime?

On Behalf of | May 1, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Did you know that you can be guilty of a crime even if you didn’t actively participate in the offense?

When you knowingly help someone before, during or after the commission of the crime, that’s considered being an “accomplice” to the crime itself. Under New Jersey’s laws, you can then be convicted of (and punished for) the same crime as the principal party involved, even though your involvement was slight.

An accessory before the fact

When an accomplice helps someone before the crime is committed, that’s usually termed being an “accessory before the fact.” Unlike being a co-conspirator, who actively participates in the planning of a crime, an accessory before the fact merely aids or agrees to aid the other person in their crime.

For example, if your buddy wants to borrow your gun to rob a bank and you hand the weapon over knowing his intentions, that’s being an accessory before the fact.

An accessory after the fact

When an accomplice helps someone get away with a crime (or tries to help them) they’re usually called an “accessory after the fact.” People often end up in this position because they don’t know how to appropriately react when they’re confronted by a friend or relative who is asking for their help.

For example, if your buddy robbed a bank and wants to hide the getaway vehicle, the gun and the money in your barn until the police stop looking, you cannot permit him to do so without becoming an accomplice.

It’s important to understand that defenses to these charges are available. In some cases, an accomplice will withdraw their support and go to the police as soon as they have a moment to think. At other times, accomplices are tricked into their actions by the other party, and they simply don’t realize what they’re doing. If you’re facing charges for being an accomplice, exercise your right to remain silent until you know more about your legal options.