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Definition - What does Accomplice mean?

An accomplice is anyone who encourages or assists another person to commit a crime, also known as aiding and abetting. An accomplice can be held responsible for the crime even if they did not actually participate in the crime but rather simply performed an action which facilitated the crime. An accomplice can be held liable and face the same punishment if the court determines their involvement was intentional or voluntary or if they failed to take action to prevent a crime.

To prove someone was aiding and abetting another criminal the prosecution will have to prove a crime was committed, the accomplice "aided, counseled, commanded, or encouraged" the other person to commit the crime, and the accomplice had the mental capacity to act with knowledge and purpose.

Common ways to aid and abet

There is variety of ways individuals can aid and abet another person to commit a crime. For example, you can be charged as an accomplice in a robbery if you provide transportation for the burglar to escape the scene of the crime, you provide the combination to a bank vault, you turn off the alarm in a store so it can be robbed, you give a gun to a person planning a crime, or you drug someone so another person can kidnap them.

Punishment for aiding and abetting

In some states an accomplice may receive the same punishment as the actual perpetrator of the crime. Other states will have reduced punishment for the accomplice. Common penalties for aiding and abetting can include fines, jail time, and probation. If someone has asked you to assist with a crime it is time to call the police and report the illegal activity.

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