Aiding and Abetting

If you have been charged with aiding and abetting a criminal or fugitive in Mississippi, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. It is common for law enforcement officers to bring charges of aiding and abetting (or accessory after the fact) against an accused’s close friends and family members—particularly with the ultimate goal of having the friend or family member turn on the accused to save him or herself. Though it may seem natural or even obvious to help a loved one through shelter, money, or protection, if that person has committed a crime, you may find yourself charged with a crime as well.

What is Aiding and Abetting?

Aiding and abetting goes by many names, but “accessory after the fact,” another commonly used name for aiding and abetting, is the name used by Mississippi Law. Mississippi Code § 97-1-5 lays out the requirements for a charge of accessory after the fact:

  1. Anyone who has concealed, received, relieved any felon, or aided or assisted a felon,
  2. Knowing that the person had committed a felony,
  3. With the intent to enable the felon to escape, avoid arrest, trial, conviction or punishment.

Essentially, if you helped someone who had committed a crime in order to help them escape or avoid the police, trial, or conviction, you are an accessory after the fact.

It is very important to understand that there are a variety of ways to have aided and abetted a crime. On one hand, it could be as simple as a little tidbit of advice. Advising someone about his or her criminal activity can be considered a form of aiding and abetting. Providing shelter and money are also two common ways family members and loved ones often get roped into crimes. Hiding somebody out at your house can get you in incredibly deep legal water, especially if that person committed a particularly heinous or violent crime.

Types of Aiding and Abetting
  • Advice
  • Once a person has committed a crime, if you have knowledge of that crime and you provide advice to that person, you have aided and abetted him. The smallest amount of information or advice could be held against you if you have provided this advice with intent to help the person in his criminal endeavors.
  • Financial support
  • Whether it’s a dollar or a hundred dollars, lending financial support to a fugitive can get you arrested and charged with aiding and abetting. If you know someone has committed a crime and you give him any amount of money—possibly even buy him something if he doesn’t have money—you can be charged with accessory after the fact.
  • Misdirecting law enforcement
  • Though it may seem obvious, if you lie to law enforcement in an effort to help a loved one who has committed a crime, you may have aided and abetted that crime.
  • Providing shelter
  • Providing shelter is one of the most common forms of aiding and abetting. Who can turn out a loved one or family member? It’s not easy. This type of assistance can land you in jail though, so it’s important to contact a proven criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after a charge of aiding and abetting.
Knowledge of the Crime

Once a person knows about a crime or of the criminal intent involved, they can be considered aiding and abetting after providing assistance. Unfortunately, once your loved one or family member puts you in the position of knowledge, you can be held accountable for your actions. It doesn’t matter that you had nothing to do with the crime itself. It doesn’t matter if the crime happened in a totally different location and you had absolutely nothing to do with it. If you have knowledge, the cops are going to try to slap you with an aiding and abetting charge.

Penalties for Aiding and Abetting

In Mississippi, the penalty for aiding and abetting a crime can be as severe as if you had committed the crime yourself. According to § 97-1-5, if you are an accessory after the fact to a violent crime, you could receive up to 20 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. If the maximum punishment for the underlying act was life, death penalty, or 20 years or more, the maximum punishment you can receive as an accessory is 20 years. If the maximum punishment for a violent underlying act was less than 20 years, you cannot receive a punishment any greater than the maximum punishment for the crime. If the underlying felony you are an accessory to is a nonviolent crime, the maximum punishment you could receive is 10 years; if the maximum punishment for the underlying nonviolent crime is less than 10 years, you cannot receive a sentence greater than the maximum punishment for the underlying act.

When to Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been charged with aiding and abetting, you need to speak with a lawyer immediately. Don’t let an overburdened and under-experienced attorney tell you that your charges aren’t that bad or they aren’t that important. This is your future on the line--aiding and abetting may not seem like a big deal to an overworked lawyer who already has a full case load and crimes carrying greater sentences to deal with. You need an attorney who understands that any crime, whether it’s a misdemeanor or felony, whether you are facing six months or six years, will impact your future. If you have been arrested and charged with aiding and abetting, contact the skilled team at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC today.

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