There is often confusion as to what aiding, abetting, and being an accessory to a crime means. These terms are used interchangeably because they are very similar in nature, however they do not mean the exact same thing. Here are the differences between aiding, abetting, and being an accessory to a crime in Colorado:

Two Types of Parties

If you are involved in committing a crime, you can either be labeled as a principal or an accessory. A principal is a person who actually commits the crime, while an accessory is someone who provides assistance to the principal after the crime. Although accessories did not actually commit the crime, they can still face criminal penalties for assisting the person who did commit it.

Aiding vs. Abetting vs. Accessory

Aiding is the act of helping the principal commit the crime, while abetting is the act of encouraging or inciting the principal to commit the crime. These two acts are often referred to together as aiding and abetting. You may be accused of aiding and abetting if the following three conditions are met:

  • Another person committed the crime.
  • You knew about the crime or the principal’s intent to commit the crime.
  • You provided some type of assistance or encouragement to help the principal commit the crime.

Most of the time, those who are accused of aiding and abetting are considered to be just as criminally liable as the principal who committed the crime. However, it is very likely that the principal will receive a much harsher sentence than someone who is accused of aiding and abetting.

An accessory is someone who is aware that the principal has committed a crime and helps him in some way, such as hiding evidence that could be used to convict him or helping him escape capture. For example, let’s say your friend tells you that he committed armed robbery at a local bank. If you dispose of the weapon that he used to commit the crime so law enforcement officers cannot find it and use it as evidence against him, you are now considered an accessory to the crime. However, helping a friend without knowledge that he committed the crime does not make you an accessory. Accessories will face criminal charges for their role in the crime, but most of the time, the charges and penalties are less severe for an accessory than they are for the principal.

Innocent people are often accused of aiding, abetting, or acting as an accessory to a crime. If you are facing these accusations, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Reisch Law Firm. We will immediately begin defending your rights and poking holes in the prosecutor’s case against you. Schedule a free consultation by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.