Hire a Federal Aiding and Abetting Lawyer for Your Defense

What is aiding and abetting? Their definitions can be a bit confusing since they’re related concepts but have different meanings. Both are violations of state laws, which vary depending on your specific location. And there are laws governing federal aiding and abetting charges.

Aiding refers to helping someone commit a crime. Abetting means you encouraged someone to commit a criminal act but you didn’t facilitate its execution. In addition, in some states, you can be considered an accessory if you aided or abetted someone’s commission of a crime.

Some states also distinguish between being an accessory before the crime occurred (“before the fact”) or after (“after the fact”).

Let the Zoukis Consulting Group defend your defense in court. Contact us now to let us fight your charges.

Am I Liable if I Didn’t Commit the Crime Myself?

Yes, aiding and abetting are considered forms of “accomplice liability.”

Per accomplice liability law, a person voluntarily, intentionally, and knowingly assisted another person ‒ or, in some cases, failed to prevent another person from ‒ committing a crime.

Accomplices are usually held liable to the same extent as the person who committed the crime. You can be found liable whether you aided, abetted, or both.

What Exactly Is Aiding a Crime?

First, the crime in question must have taken place. In other words, if you helped plan a crime, but it never took place, you won’t be held liable. Further, your assistance had to help in the commitment of the crime.

So if you provided information that didn’t help the assailant conduct the crime, you should not be held liable. In addition, you need to have knowledge that you are helping someone commit a crime and willfully act in a manner that truly enabled the assailant(s) to achieve the crime.

Do I Have to Be at the Scene of the Crime to Be Charged?

No, your physical presence is not necessary.

For example, if you gave John the keys to the store where you work, knowing that he planned to rob it, you can be held liable even if you weren’t at the store when he emptied the cash registers.

What Exactly Is Abetting a Crime?

You can be held liable for abetting a crime if you actively encouraged, prompted, supported, or instigated it. In addition, if you know that a crime will occur yet do nothing to prevent it, you are passively abetting that crime. Essentially, abetting means that both you and the perpetrator want the crime to be successful.

What Elements Are Considered to Determine Whether I Aided and Abetted a Crime?

Different state laws might use varying terminology to define “aid” and “abet.” If you knew the perpetrator’s unlawful intentions, the law might describe you as contributing to the crime by doing the following:

  • Advising
  • Counseling
  • Inducing
  • Encouraging
  • Promoting
  • Acting
  • Instigating
  • Having the intent to encourage or facilitate a crime

What Are Some Examples of Aiding and Abetting?

  • Providing an alibi for someone you know committed a crime (i.e., being an accessory after the fact).
  • Serving as a getaway driver.
  • Keeping a lookout for police while you know someone is committing theft.
  • Giving information to someone you know plans to use such knowledge to commit a crime (being an accessory before the fact).
  • Assisting in planning any crime.

Do I Have a Duty to Help?

If you witness a crime, are you guilty of aiding and abetting if you don’t try to prevent it? Probably not ‒ that is, if you had no previous knowledge that the crime would occur.

Unless your state requires you to act, you won’t be liable for aiding and abetting, even if you could have taken actions to prevent the crime and possible harm.

Duty to Help Laws

It’s important to distinguish between duty to help laws and the concept of aiding and abetting. In several states, you generally do not have the responsibility to rescue another person. You would only have that responsibility if you created the situation yourself, you started trying to help, or the person in need of help is a family member or otherwise has a special relationship with you.

With that said, some states do have laws that require you to help someone in need. Such laws differ from state to state, including potential punishment for aiding and abetting. Generally, you must call the police or medical personnel if you witness a crime or an emergency and know that someone could be or was hurt.

If you do witness a crime, most people feel it’s their moral responsibility to provide help during such an emergency. That’s true, but unfortunately, providing such assistance might have legal consequences in some cases. Understand the law in your state so you can make an informed decision should you ever find yourself witnessing a crime.

Therefore, being in a position where you might have a duty to help is essentially the opposite of aiding and abetting or being an accessory to a crime. In the first scenario, you’re a witness to a crime for which you had no previous knowledge. In the second, you knew about the crime before or after it occurred and either assisted in its completion even if you weren’t on the scene or you were willing to cover it up after the fact. 

Your Defense

If you ever face aiding and abetting charges, what recourse do you have? If you were involved in a crime, your best defense is arguing and proving you didn’t knowingly contribute ‒ or that the offense was incomplete and therefore no crime occurred. 

The latter can be successful since being liable for aiding and abetting requires a completed crime. The former can be an effective defense since, if proven, a person who unwittingly assisted in a crime faces no liability. Liability occurs only when a person wittingly contributes to another’s crime, hoping the principal is successful.

Retaining an Aiding and Abetting Attorney

If you are charged with aiding and abetting, you should retain an experienced lawyer immediately to assess the facts of your case and outline the next steps for you. You’ll want to retain the services of an attorney who has a long, successful track record of representing clients charged with aiding and abetting.

That is the Zoukis Consulting Group. Call us today for an initial consultation.