The inchoate offense of aiding and abetting implies to the individual who does not execute the crime himself/herself but assists the criminal in an offensive or criminal activity. The person who aids in executing the crime successfully is referred to as an accessory to a crime. The laws for aiding and abetting vary state to state and the penalties and sentencing depend on the involvement of the accessory and the severity of the crime.
What does aiding and abetting means and how people get involved in aiding and abetting second degree murder charges? Let’s find out in the next portion of the article.
What do aiding and abetting mean?
Aiding and abetting are like two sides of a coin, they are connected but with a slightly different perspective. As a legal definition, proving a level of assistance in executing a crime i.e. acting as a gateway rider, keeping a way out and monitoring outside activity when someone is committing a robbery, generating explanations for a person who is involved in the crime, etc.
However, if the crime is known to be aided or abetted, you will be held liable if you are involved in the crime by any means either aiding or abetting for it.
As a precise definition;
A person intentionally aids a criminal activity knowing the plan and the consequences regarding the crime. The assistance is a help in the commission of the potential crime. You have liability for aiding a crime if:
- You know that the person you are assisting is about to commit a crime, and
- Without making a payback promise, you voluntarily help a criminal to commit a crime.
It is also important to note here, that to be liable for aiding, physical appearance is not required at the crime scene. But you will be liable if you aid the criminal while not being there when it happened.
Example: Smith asked John for a bank’s vault floor design so they can rob the vault. Smith provided the floor design to him but stayed at home and did not participate in the plan.
Abetting is the other name of supporting and encouraging. That encouragement and support can be in any form of instigation, passive, and active. If you know that the person you are helping is committing a crime and you are physically helping him/her at the crime scene encouraging and backing up their criminal activity, you will be held responsible for abetting. If you know the crime is happening and you are doing nothing, it would also be taken under the support of offense.
In many states, some more words are there that can be used for, in place of, or in addition to the word ‘abet’. They include:
Example: John hired Smith to plan a bank robbery. Smith then prepares a team together and they commit the crime.
To comprehend it further, watch the following video and find out the whole aiding and abetting meaning in a comprehensive way.
How aiding and abetting are different from each other?
There are two prominent differences in aiding and abetting:
- In aiding a crime, an act of aiding or assisting is involved, while in abetting, it does not.
- For abetting, evidence must be put forward proving abet, that the aid helped the criminal in the commission of the crime.
Apart from the differences, there are more similarities in aiding and abetting. They include:
- Both aiding and abetting have to happen before the actual commission of the crime.
- Both are criminal offenses.
- To be responsible for aiding and abetting, intent is required.
- Anyone abetting or aiding knows completely that the person whom he/she is helping intends to commit a criminal activity that may harm the property, life, or the emotions of any other entity.
- Physical appearance for aiding/abetting at the crime scene is a factor that depends on the liability.
Now you know that aiding and abetting is not only different in meaning but they have a significant impact on the crime and criminal as well. Know more about their intricacies.
Elements of Aiding and abetting
There are four general elements in aiding and abetting offenses.
- The accused must have the intent to aid in the execution of a crime by another.
- The accused had the intent to aid in the offense in question by his will without any external force
- The accused participated and assisted in the commission of a crime
- Someone committed the underlying substantive offense.
Aiding and abetting meaning – explained
One can simply get what is aiding and abetting meaning from the following example.
Suppose Ben works as a helper at a seafood restaurant. His friend Johnathan wants to rob the restaurant. All he has to do is to leave the back door of the restaurant open the following night so John can enter the restaurant. Jonathan promises Ben to give 30% of the stolen amount once he succeeds in the restaurant robbery.
John managed to plan the robbery because Ben always complains about his manager that he’s a lazy drunk and he always gets late to work just because his manager takes too much time to get up and unlock the door so he can start his work and gets off on time. Ben also told once that there was a time when it took 50 minutes to his manager to open the restaurant door but things get started doing better when the manager gave the restaurant door keys to John so this would not happen again. But according to the policy, Ben and other co-workers have to leave from the front door after finishing their shifts. So the manager and the bartender would drink at least for one more hour.
Angry and jealous Ben, having rage on his manager and the bartender for wasting his time and having free drinks together agreed on the plan to forget to lock the backdoor of the restaurant.
After finishing up his work at night, Ben knowingly leaves the backdoor open as planned. John slips through in the restaurant and puts a handgun on the manager’s head while threatening him to hand in the locker keys. What Ben or John did not know was that there is a secret alarm at the bar which the bartender can activate.
When John hears the Police sirens, he grabs as much amount as he could from the safe and successfully escapes from the restaurant. He makes it to his girlfriend Jennie, bribing her to give her a percentage of money if she helps him hide from the Police for some time. She agrees to the deal and takes him inside the house.
John later gets arrested against the robbery charges of a restaurant. On investigating, John provided the information of the robbery including the names of Ben and Jennie.
Ben got the charges of aiding and abetting because he left the door unlocked so John can sneak in and commit the crime. Although Ben was not present at the place but his action made him charged with the offense.
Jennie also gets the aiding and abetting charges, however, she was not involved from the beginning of the crime but helps the accused knowingly that he has robbed the restaurant.
This means regardless of the time when you aid anybody in crime, there’s a significance of crime that was committed.
What are the probable penalties for aiding and abetting?
The penalties for aiding and abetting greatly depend on the state laws and the severity of the crime. If the state finds someone guilty of a committed crime as an accessory, then the liability will be decided concerning the severity of the original crime. Anyone who helps a criminal in executing a capital offense will be charged with a first-degree felony crime. If a person is found in assisting a preparatory in taking someone’s life then he or she may be charged for aiding and abetting second degree murders.
If convicted, it is on the decree of the judge, who can impose any kind and combination of penalties until an obligatory sentence is required. The penalties under the aiding and abetting second degree murders may include:
- Up to 30 yrs. in prison or on probation
- Up to $10,000 fine
Aiders and abettors who help the guilty person in 1st-degree felony offenses will be charged with second-degree murder offense. If there’s no minimum sentence required then the judge can impose the following penalties or a combination of penalties.
- Up to 15 yrs. in prison or probation
- Up to 10,000 fines
People aiding or abetting the guilty in second or third-degree felony crimes will be charged with third-degree felonies. On the point where the accessory is found guilty, and there’s no minimum sentence required then the judge can impose the following or the combination of the following penalties.
- Up to 5yrs. in prison or probation
- Up to $5,000 fines.
If someone is found guilty as a result of aiding or abetting third-degree crimes which normally are assigned as level 1 or level 2 offenses, the accessory will be imposed with the first-degree misdemeanor. On conviction, first-degree misdemeanors can come up with the following penalties.
- Up to 1yr. in prison or probation.
- Up to $ 1,000 fine.
Who can be exempted from aiding and abetting charges?
Particularly, there are two exemptions in the case of aiding and abetting. If the aiding accessory has a blood relation to the criminal as a parent, spouse, child, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling, they cannot be charged with the charges as an accessory or for felony charges. Although, aunt, uncle, or cousins are not exempted from the accessory charges for aiding and abetting, even if they technically have a blood relation with the guilty.
The blood relation exemptions do not apply in the cases of aiding and abetting by the relatives if the crime is done in scenarios like child neglect, child abuse, or child death and they can be charged with accessory charges as they are mentioned above.
The conviction of aiding and abetting depends on many factors such as your residence and the severity of the crime. Generally, serious crimes lead to severe and harsher penalties no matter where you live. Based on your assistance, your penalties can be greater than those which are mentioned above and vice versa.
How can an attorney help?
To shun the probable possible expensive financial penalties and longer jail time along with the criminal record you need to get a strong criminal defense attorney for your aiding and abetting felony charges. Knowing how to go about the case and what to say before the judge can make a significant difference in your charges, conviction as well as penalties.
An experienced criminal defense attorney with the expertise will be able to help you throughout the case and will assure you a much better outcome. If you or the person you aid or abet is charged with a crime before you are convicted as an accessory, prepare a strong defense against yourself by having a criminal defense attorney at your back.
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