Just as Liable as the Principal Offender: How the Law Sees Accomplices


lawCriminal cases are not just a matter of finding out who did it, but also who helped in doing it. Accomplices are just as accountable to the law as principal offender, or the ones who actually carried out the crime.

As defense attorneys from DNTrialLaw.com explain, the law defines an accomplice as the person who intentionally helps in the commission of criminal activity; unlike the accessory to a crime, the accomplice is usually present when the crime happened.

Elements of Accomplice Liability

The court evaluates different factors when determining accomplice liability. For instance, they will look into the matter of intent. This means a person must have aimed to actually finish the criminal activity. They should have acted with the requisite state in their jurisdiction, intentionally giving assistance to the principal offender.

This implies that if a person is indeed at the crime scene, but didn’t actively participate in helping the perpetrator; it’s likely that the court will declare the accomplice not guilty.

The judge will also see to it that the main offender knows that the defendant is helping with the completion of the crime. Otherwise, the court won’t find the accomplice liable for any crime.

Defense Strategies

Criminal defense attorneys use several strategies to challenge a charge of accomplice liability. One such strategy is the assertion of withdrawal, that is, if the defendant stops from helping in the crime before the completion of the crime. This defense strategy will be evaluated based on the nature of assistance the accomplice offered in the first place.

For instance, if the defendant helped in terms of encouragement, they will be acquitted if they expressed rejection of the crime, so the court will regard the withdrawal as effective. But if assistance went beyond simple encouragement and involved actual, physical support, then they must have tried to prevent the criminal activity further.

The law sees accomplices the same way as the main actor of the crime. Consult criminal defense lawyers if you have more concerns about other matters concerning accomplice liability.