What does it mean to be an accessory to a crime?

In some criminal cases, people seemingly were in the wrong place at the wrong time or were just trying to help a loved one. They may not even believe that they truly broke the law until they faced criminal charges.

Commonly, charges for aiding and abetting or being an accessory to a crime could come against people who may not have directly participated in an initial crime. However, if you have these allegations brought against you in Illinois, you still face a serious legal predicament that you need to address to the best of your ability.

Helping a perpetrator

In general terms, aiding and abetting, or acting as an accessory, typically involves helping a perpetrator, or someone who has committed a crime. For instance, if an individual robbed a store and came to your home while running from the police, you could potentially face accessory charges if you help the person hide.

In this example, the charges may apply because you knew the person was trying to commit a crime by hiding from police, and you helped that person carry out that crime by allowing him or her to hide in your home. As a result, you became an accessory to the crime. Aiding and abetting, or accessory charges, could apply if authorities believe you assisted before or after the initial crime occurred.

Possible punishment

If you face charges and the court convicts you, you could face the same type of consequences as the main perpetrator in the associated case. Commonly, those repercussions include the following outcomes:

  • Community service
  • Restitution to the victims
  • Jail or prison time
  • Probation
  • Fines

These types of allegations could also come in the form of misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the details of a specific case. Understanding the exact charges you face could make a considerable difference in your predicament.

Creating a defense

Even if you feel you have done nothing wrong, creating a meaningful defense against any criminal charge is wise. In order to find the best path for your ordeal, you may want to explore the various defense options available to you. You may have a long road ahead, but you do not have to travel it alone.

Enlisting the help of an experienced Illinois defense attorney may allow you to better understand the charges brought against you, how to approach your case and what legal options you have for moving forward in a manner with which you feel comfortable.