Aiding, abetting, and being an accessory to a crime are all criminal offenses that carry a criminal charge. If a jury finds you guilty, you may do jail time. These charges are very serious, and you’ll need a criminal defense attorney to represent you in court. These crimes all include assisting a person in committing a crime, although, there are differences in the definitions of the charges.

WHAT is Aiding?

A person who intentionally helps someone else commit a crime is aiding them. A person can be charged with this crime if their assistance helps the culprit successfully commit a crime.

To be liable for aiding a crime, you must:

  • Be aware that the person you are helping is trying to commit a crime
  • Voluntarily act in a way that helps them commit it

What is Abetting?

Abetting a crime means you are encouraging or supporting it. The support can be active, in the form of instigation, or it can be passive.

To be liable for abetting a crime, you have to:

  • Be aware that the offense is occurring and exhibit no efforts to halt it
  • Be present for the crime’s commission

What is Accessory?

Being an accessory to a crime means you knowingly helped plan or prepare for a crime by choice, without outside pressure. Individuals who help before the crime occurs may receive this charge. If you help a criminal avoid arrest after they commit a crime, the Prosecutor may charge you with Accessory After the Fact, otherwise known as Obstruction of Justice.

To be liable for being an accessory to a crime, you have to knowingly and voluntarily participate in carrying out the crime. You don’t have to be physically present at the scene of the crime to be held liable.

Punishment in Texas

Texas aiding and abetting laws hold the accomplice guilty, much like they would the person who actually committed the crime. Texas Penal Code Chapter 7 holds anyone who helped plan or carry out a crime liable. This means you could face serious jail time just for assisting or encouraging someone to break the law. Texas law makes it a crime to knowingly or willingly aid or assist another person in the committing of a crime.

The Prosecutor can charge you with aiding and abetting, even if you didn’t know you were helping someone commit a crime. They can also charge you if you offer help to someone who commits a crime either during or after the fact.

Examples of aiding and abetting

  • Providing another person with a gun knowing that they plan to use it to commit a robbery. You also risk getting a robbery conviction.
  • Loaning your car to someone who plans to use it to commit a crime or to evade the police.
  • Taking photos of a secure vault area at the bank you work in, and giving them to a friend who then robs the bank. 

Can you be charged if you didn’t know they were a fugitive?

Judges often state that ignorance of the law is not a viable defense for criminal charges. Most times a defendant can be found guilty, even if they didn’t know that their actions were illegal. However, there are some exceptions. The attorneys at Davis, Ermis, & Roberts can help you navigate these charges, and better understand exceptions to the rule.

Your best defense, Davis, Ermis, & Roberts

Legal defenses vary depending on the nature of the crime, the level of guilt or innocence, and the amount of evidence available. We can develop a quality criminal defense strategy by researching your case and crafting an extensive background. At David, Ermis & Roberts, P.C., providing the best possible criminal defense is our purpose. Our function within the justice system is to listen and to advocate for our clients. Contact us today so we can start preparing for your hearing, and get you the best results possible.