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What Does it Mean To Be An Accomplice in A Criminal Case?

Posted on : March 26, 2023
accomplice in a criminal case, college crimes

What Does it Mean To Be An Accomplice in A Criminal Case?

An accomplice in a criminal case knowingly and intentionally assisted someone else in perpetrating a crime. The accomplice does not actively or directly participate in criminal activities or might not be found at the crime scene. But an accomplice aids the principal in committing the crime.

However, the law treats both the principal and the accomplice equally. That is, they are both prosecuted the same way.

Difference Between a Principal and An Accomplice 

Generally, the principal is the primary perpetrator of a crime. The principal is directly involved in the crime and is usually found at the crime scene. Conversely, the accomplice plays a supporting role in a crime scene. 

For instance, the principal comes into the bank to rob, while the accomplice could be the security agent that gave the robber the security code for easy access. Thus, the security agent is as guilty as the robber.

Difference Between Conspiracy and Accomplice In a Criminal Case 

A conspiracy occurs when two or more people actively decide to plan and commit a crime. A conspirator helps to commit the crime, while an accomplice assists or aids the crime. An accomplice does not commit the crime itself.

Also, an accomplice can only be found guilty if the crime was committed. However, a conspirator can be found guilty of conspiracy even if the underlying offense was not achieved. For example, an accomplice to a robbery can be charged with theft, and if the crime was not committed, there is no accomplice liability. 

If there was a conspiracy to commit robbery, but it was thwarted, the co-conspirators can be charged with conspiracy. If the theft was actually committed, they could be accused of conspiracy and robbery.

Elements of Accomplice Liability

For a defendant to be convicted as an accomplice, a prosecutor must be able to prove the following elements to convict someone of being an accomplice:

  • Another individual committed the crime
  • The defendant aided, counseled, commanded, or encouraged the other person to commit the crime.
  • The defendant acted with the requisite mental state in their jurisdiction, for example, knowingly or purposefully, to assist in the crime.

Being an accomplice or a conspirator can attract severe punishment under the law, depending on the crime. Therefore, if you are accused of either, it is best to get a criminal defense attorney to plead your case.  

 

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