What should you know about accomplice liability?

In Pennsylvania, there are laws in place that specifically deal with people who are either complicit in crimes, or are active or passive accomplices when a crime is taking place. If you are facing charges of being complicit in a crime or an accomplice to another person, this information may be useful to you.

FindLaw takes a look at complicity and accomplice liability, both of which involve aiding a person accused of a crime in some way. Another term for these charges is “aiding and abetting”. In some cases, an accomplice’s actions may be forced. In others, these actions may be of your own free will. The willingness of an accomplice or someone complicit in a crime is often the focus of debate in court cases.

Elements of complicity can include:

  • Helping robbers by providing a get-away vehicle
  • Turning off a store’s alarm
  • Directing cars into areas where carjackers are waiting
  • Providing a gun to someone knowing they will use it for a crime

Examples of being an accomplice can include commanding, aiding, or encouraging a criminal. You must also knowingly or purposefully understand what you are doing by taking these actions. In order to be considered an accomplice, you cannot have a direct hand in the crime.

If you are facing charges of being complicit in a crime or acting as an accomplice, know that you can go to jail just as easily as the person who is being charged with the primary crime. For that reason, you may want to reach out to an experienced defense attorney who can help you figure your way through this situation.