You may have heard terms like “aiding and abetting a criminal” or “being an accessory to a crime.” All of these charges have similar circumstances, but are different in terms of how they are classified and penalized in a court of law. All three are a violation of state law, but are met with different consequences. Read on to better understand the similarities and differences between these crimes, and remember to contact a Virginia criminal defense lawyer if you are accused of any of these crimes.

What Are The Differences Between Aiding And Abetting A Criminal And Being An Accessory To A Crime?

Although these are technically different crimes, there is substantial overlap between their definitions. Although the charges have similarities, read on to learn more about the differences between them so you can be properly informed. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you or someone you love is accused of this type of crime, contact The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC right away.

Anyone involved with the three charges below will legally be considered an accomplice to a crime committed by another person. The other person is referred to as the “principal.”

Anyone who is charged with aiding a criminal, abetting a criminal or being an accessory to a crime is formally accused of providing help or assistance to the principle of the crime either before or after the crime in question was committed. The person who is charged with aiding, abetting, or being an accessory is not typically present when the crime is being committed. When someone provides assistance at the scene of the crime, they may be charged with simply committing that crime. Despite the minor differences detailed below, all three of these charges will require proof that the accomplice was aware a crime was about to be committed or would soon be committed by the principal.

The similarities and differences between aiding or abetting a criminal or being an accessory to a crime are as follows:

  • Aiding a criminal: This charge involves supporting, aiding, assisting, or helping someone else commit an illegal act. Aiding a criminal is a term often used to describe a one-time act or single occurrence.
  • Abetting is inciting, encouraging, provoking, or inducing another person to commit an illegal act. Similar to aiding a criminal, abetting involves a single act, and not a series of events that occurred over a span of time.
  • An accessory to a crime is somewhat different than aiding or abetting a criminal. You may be considered an accessory to a crime if you do any of the above acts in order to support, supplement, or encourage someone else to commit a crime. Generally, Virginia law will distinguish between accessories both after and before the crime. 

When Can Someone Be Charged As A Conspirator?

In some cases, the role of being an aider and abetter is more serious than just driving a getaway car or encouraging a crime. If your degree of involvement in the crime is serious, you might be charged as a conspirator. For example, let’s say one person tipped off another (the principal of the crime) that their neighbor is on vacation. Maybe the person even told the principal that their neighbor typically leaves their side door unlocked, or that a window to their basement is open and easily accessible. Using that tip, the principal is motivated and encouraged to commit the crime, and even now has information that makes it even easier for them to do. 

In a situation like this, that person may be charged as a conspirator to a crime. Penalties for being a conspirator to a crime are more serious than if you simply aided or abetted a criminal. If you have been faced with any kind of criminal charge of this nature, you need the help of an experienced lawyer right away. The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC has the skill and expertise to defend you against these allegations, finding any area of opportunity possible to get your charges reduced or dropped entirely. 

Schedule A Free Consultation With Fairfax Lawyer The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC If You Have Been Arrested For Being An Accessory To A Crime

No matter what crime you’re charged with, you’ll want a seasoned, veteran attorney with a proven track record on your side at all times. Fairfax criminal defense attorney Scott C. Nolan, PLLC promises to be a strong advocate on your behalf. He has more than two decades of courtroom experience and success, and will leverage this expertise to provide the high-quality defense that you deserve.

If you have been charged with aiding and abetting a criminal, being an accessory to a crime, or being a conspirator to a crime, schedule a free consultation with Fairfax criminal defense lawyer The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC.