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Aid and Abet

Definition - What does Aid and Abet mean?

Aiding and abetting is the act of helping another person commit a crime. The act must be done intentionally, actively, and knowingly, although the accomplice does not have to actually help commit the crime nor do they have to be physically present at the scene when the crime is committed. They can be law enforcement considers an "accessory" before or after the fact.

In some states if you aid and abet a criminal to commit a crime you can be held criminally liable as a principal to the crime and receive penalties and fines which are as severe as those directly involved in the crime.

Common examples of aiding and abetting

There are several ways a person can aid and abet another person to commit a crime. For example, providing a gun to someone who is planning to rob a store, keeping lookout while someone robs a bank, providing a false alibi, providing a get a way car after a store robbery, or giving information about the combination on a bank vault to another person so they can rob the bank can all be considered aiding and abetting.

Aiding and Abetting v. Conspiracy

Aiding and abetting differs from the criminal act of conspiracy to commit a crime. Conspiracy occurs if you and another person conspire or plan together to commit a crime, but you could be charged with aiding and abetting even if you and the other criminal perpetrator never conspired or agreed to commit the crime together.

For example, if your friend comes to your house after they have robbed a bank and asks to use your car to get away you could be charged with aiding and abetting for giving them your car. You would not, however, be charged with conspiracy because the two of you did not plan before the commission of the crime for you to help them.

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