What’s the Difference Between Aiding, Abetting, and Accessory to a Crime?

You may be familiar with these terms after hearing them in your favorite late-night crime drama, but these charges aren’t just fiction. Aiding, abetting and accessory to a crime both carry harsh sentences in Texas, often similar to those given to the person who committed the crime. While they may sound similar, the qualifications for these charges are different. Knowing the differences between the two could make a big impact on your case.

What Is Aiding and Abetting?

Aiding and abetting a crime is when someone assists in its execution. Even if you’re not at the scene of the crime, you may still be found guilty of aiding and abetting if you provided assistance to those who committed it. This can include providing information useful to the crime, or materials used in its execution. As an example, purchasing a weapon for a friend who then uses it to commit a robbery can result in a charge of aiding & abetting.

You may be charged with aiding and abetting if you’re aware that someone will commit a crime, and take no action to prevent it, or encouraged the crime in any way. Acting as a getaway driver, lying to law enforcement to hide a crime, or requesting that someone commit a crime on your behalf are all cases of aiding and abetting. 

What Is Accessory to a Crime?

The significant difference between these two charges is that an accessory to a crime can assist before or after its execution. Accessory to a crime is often used in cases where individuals knowingly hide a criminal from law enforcement, which would constitute accessory after the fact. 

Neither of these charges require that you were present at the scene of the crime. In fact, providing information that was used in the crime is usually enough in and of itself to constitute being charged as an accessory to a crime. Even if you learned of the crime after the fact, but still assisted the criminal in any way, you can still be charged.

Most importantly, both of these charges require that a person knowingly assisted the perpetrator of a crime. If you unknowingly helped in some way with the execution of a crime, an experienced criminal defense attorney is critical to making your case and ensuring you don’t end up in jail for someone else’s poor decisions. Contact the Law Offices of Charles A. Banker, III at (713) 227-4100 for quality representation that makes a difference.

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The Law Offices of Charles A. Banker, III

Our firm’s founder, Charles A. Banker III, has been a solo criminal defense practitioner with offices in Houston and McAllen, TX for over 30 years. He understands what it means to work independently in today’s hyperconnected world, but he also knows that sometimes you need to lean on others.

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