It goes without saying that you'll be arrested and charged when you commit a crime. There are times, however, when you'll also face prosecution even if you're not directly involved in the criminal act. Here are two times when this can happen to help you understand the relevant laws so you can plant your defense strategy.
1. Aiders, Abettors, and Conspirators
A common way people get caught in prosecutors' crosshairs is when they assist the perpetrators who actually do the criminal acts. In legalese, this is called aiding and abetting. For instance, two employees work in a jewelry store.
One employee blocks the security camera while the other steals several diamond rings. Even though the first employee didn't actually take anything, the person aided in the crime by helping the second employee avoid being recorded.
Some states take things a step further and will prosecute anyone who agrees to commit a crime. When two or more people get together and agree to do something illegal, it is called conspiracy. Since conspiracy is considered a crime in and of itself, it's unnecessary for any of the party members actually to commit the illegal act. Depending on where you live, all that's necessary is for one person to perform an overt act towards the commission of the crime.
For example, three people discuss robbing a bank. A few weeks later, one person purchases guns and face masks to use during the heist. Although the crime hasn't been committed yet, all three people could face criminal charges if caught.
2. Punishments for Conviction
The type of punishment you would face if convicted of any of these charges varies depending on the jurisdiction and the criminal act. In most states, there is no distinction made between the person who actually committed the crime and those who aided and abetted the individual.
Thus, you would face the same harsh punishment as the person who did the deed. For instance, a person who commits petty theft (a misdemeanor) in Michigan can get up to 93 days in jail as will anyone who helps the person pull off the crime.
There's a little bit more leeway with conspiracy charges. As noted before, conspiracy is a crime in and of itself, so that's the minimum punishment you would face if you were convicted of the charge. Whether you would also face punishment for the commission of the crime will depend on the circumstances of the case and your level of involvement. You may be able to avoid the additional jail time and fines associated with the crime if you can convince the judge and jury you had no intention of following through with the agreement.
If you find yourself in a situation where you're charged with aiding and abetting someone's bad act or conspiring to commit a crime, it's essential you contact a criminal defense law office like Law Offices of Lynda Latta, LLC as soon as possible to protect your rights.Share
8 April 2018
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