Assisting or helping someone else with the commission of a crime (or helping them avoid punishment for a crime) means that you are an accomplice to a crime. You do not have to have actually committed a crime to be guilty of a crime. Driving a getaway car that allows someone else to escape the scene of a crime, lending someone a gun that they use to kill someone else or paying for supplies that they used to kill someone, or being on the lookout for law enforcement while someone commits a crime are all ways that someone can be an accomplice to another crime.
Anyone who has been charged as an accomplice to a crime in Maryland is encouraged to contact an attorney to help them with their case as soon as possible. The attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras can utilize years of experience with helping clients like you to use. Connect with them soon for more information about how they can help you with your case or to talk about setting up a time for a free consultation. Call (410) 834-3678 or visit our website for more information.
What it Means to Be an Accomplice in Maryland
Aiding, abetting, encouraging, counseling, or facilitating a crime in any other way can result in accomplice charges in the state of Maryland. In order to be charged and convicted, the defendant must have knowingly, willingly, or deliberately helped with the commission of a crime; they must have also voluntarily or intentionally provided assistance or encouragement to someone who completes the commission of a crime. Both direct and indirect assistance in the commission of a crime—whether it be through actions, words, or other forms of facilitation—is considered to be accompliceship.
There are many ways in which someone can be an accomplice to a crime. These include:
- Turning off a security system of the scene of a crime
- Providing someone else with tools to commit crime, which may be a weapon or instrument used to commit a crime or tools used to cover up a crime
- Paying for tools that someone else uses to commit a crime
- Helping someone flee the scene of a crime
- Alerting someone who is committing a crime to approaching law enforcement
Kinds of Accomplice Charges
There are four types of charges that can be brought against an accomplice to a crime. The first is principal in the first degree, which is charged against the person who actually commits the crime. There can be multiple principals in the first degree in any crime. The second type of charge that can be placed against an accomplice to a crime is the charge of principal in the second degree. This charge is for anyone who has provided assistance to the principal in the first degree; they must be present at the time that the crime is committed. The third type of charge for accomplices to a crime is known as an accessory before the fact, which means that they assisted the principal in the first degree but was not present at the time that the crime was committed. Finally, it is also possible for accomplices to crimes to face accessory after the fact charges, which means that they were aware of the fact that a crime was committed and then assisted the principal in the first degree to escape capture or punishment but was not present at the time that the crime was committed.
It is possible for an accomplice to a crime to be charged even if the principal in the first degree is not. It should be noted that accomplice charges are different from conspiracy charges. Conspiracy charges are filed against two or more people that have actively conspired to commit a crime together at some point in the future. At least one person involved in the conspiracy must have committed an overt act in furtherance of the crime.
A prosecutor who is attempting to convict someone of accomplice charges must prove four elements in the case. These are:
- The prosecutor must prove that a person who is not the defendant committed the crime.
- The prosecutor must prove that the principal in the first degree was aided, encouraged, counseled, or commanded by the defendant at some point during the commission of the crime.
- The defendant must have been of healthy and sound mind while assisting with the commission of the crime.
- The defendant must have acted with full knowledge and understanding that they were assisting with the commission of a crime.
Criminal Defense Attorney for Accomplice Charges in Maryland
If you have been charged as an accomplice to a crime in the state of Maryland, you should seek the assistance of an attorney as soon as possible. The lawyers that work with Rice, Murtha & Psoras in Maryland bring with them expertise that has been developed over the course of decades. Call (410) 834-3678 or visit their website to learn more about their services or to schedule a time for a free consultation.