You don’t have to actually commit a crime to be guilty of a crime. Helping someone else commit a crime makes you partially guilty as well. Providing assistance to someone committing a crime, whether they actually complete it or not—this could mean driving the getaway car, acquiring tools that someone can use to commit a crime, or looking out for law enforcement—makes you an accomplice to a crime and you can face severe consequences for it.
If you have been charged as an accomplice to a crime in Maryland, you should get in touch with an attorney immediately. Rice, Murtha & Psoras has attorneys waiting to put decades worth of experience to use to ensure that their clients are treated as fairly as possible as they deal with their criminal accomplice charges. Don’t waste time waiting to get in touch with them. Contact them today. Call (410) 834-3678 or visit our website at your earliest convenience.
Defining the Accomplice in a Crime
To be an accomplice means that a person has aided, abetted, encouraged, counseled, or otherwise facilitated a crime. They are considered to be a principal actor in the crime.
A defendant, in order to be charged as an accomplice to a crime, must have knowingly, willingly, or deliberately committed a crime. They must have intentionally or voluntarily provided assistance or encouragement to another person who has committed a crime. Alternatively, if they knowingly failed to prevent a crime, they will be considered to be an accomplice to a crime. An accomplice must have been proven to have contributed to the commission of a crime, either directly or indirectly, though the use of words, actions, or other forms of facilitation.
Some examples of ways that someone can be an accomplice to a crime is by turning off a security system in a place where a crime is to be committed, providing someone with a tool or weapon, paying for items that can be used by someone else in a crime, looking out for approaching law enforcement while someone commits a crime, or driving a getaway car.
Elements of Accomplice Liability
In order to be charged as an accomplice to a crime, a prosecutor must prove four elements in the case (these vary slightly by state). Firstly, the prosecutor must prove that the crime was committed by a person that is not the defendant. Secondly, they must prove that the defendant encouraged, counseled, commanded, or aided the person at some point during the process of committing the crime. Thirdly, the defendant must have had a healthy or requisite mental state while committing the crime. Finally, the defendant must have acted while fully knowing and understanding that they were assisting with the commission of a crime.
Types of Accomplice Charges
There are four types of charges that can be brought against an accomplice to a crime. They are:
- Principal in the first degree – This type of charge is for the person who actually commits the crime. There can be multiple principals in the first degree.
- Principal in the second degree – A principal in the second degree is anyone who has helped the principal in the first degree with the commission of a crime. They must be present at the time that the crime in committed in order to receive this specific charge.
- Accessory Before the Fact – Anyone who has assisted or encouraged the principal in the first degree bu who was not present at the time that the crime was committed will receive the charge or accessory before the fact.
- Accessory After the Fact – Any party that is aware of the fact that a crime has been committed and assists the defendant with escape, capture, and/or punishment may be charged with Accessory After the Fact.
It should be noted that an accomplice to a crime can be charged with a crime even if the principal in the first degree is not charged. Being an accessory to a crime is a subcategory of being an accomplice—an accessory to a crime is not present at the time that a crime is committed and usually carries less severe penalties than an accomplice charge. It should also be noted that accomplice charges are different from conspiracy charges. Conspiracy, on the other hand, is charged when two or more people actively conspire together to commit a crime at a future time.
Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney for Crime Accomplice Charges
Whether you are guilty or innocent of your criminal charges, you need the help of an attorney to guide your case through the legal system. Choose the Law Offices to help you build and present a case for yourself. Call (410) 834-3678 or visit our website for more information about how you can use the services of the attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras.