A crime is a crime in Florida and you could face criminal penalties just as severe as if you were the main perpetrator even as an accessory, although you may not be considered the main perpetrator of the crime in Florida.
Answer NO Questions: Call An Attorney
No matter what crime you may be arrested for or accused of call an attorney immediately. Ask for your phone call and do not answer any questions no matter your innocence or guilt in the matter. Anything you say may be the wrong thing. You are not an attorney, you do not know the laws inside and out. You can damage your case answering any questions without an attorney.
Contact criminal defense attorney Roddy Lanigan if you are arrested and accused of being involved in a crime. Lanigan and Lanigan, P.L., are experienced attorneys who provide aggressive representation with a personal touch.
The State of Florida doesn’t make any distinction between the criminal liability of perpetrators and their accomplices. All can be punished equally, whether they actually perpetrate a crime or help to make it happen. If you helped prepare, plan, support, aid or assure that a crime occurs, you’re as guilty in the eyes of Florida law, as a principal who committed a crime.
Conspirator or Accomplice?
The only difference between accomplices and conspirators is that accomplices are helpers in the crime. Conspirators are principals in a crime. Conspirators are two or more who agree to commit a crime.
Conspiracy is a controversial crime because conspirators can be guilty even if the crime that they agree to commit never occurs. Conspirators can be punished for illegal plans rather–even if a crime does not occur.
While there is some protection against convicting people purely for their thoughts, conspirators (in most states) are not guilty of the crime of conspiracy unless at least one commits an overt act.
An overt act is an activity that in some way moves a conspiracy into motion.
Principal or Accomplice You’re a Criminal
You may be the principal, the accomplice, an aider, or an abettor or accessory based on your role in the crime. But the fact that you participated–no matter at which level or how active or in-depth–makes you guilty.
You may be an accomplice: For example, you drove the getaway car in an armed robbery. You weren’t forced to do this and in fact you accommodated the crime. You planned on being involved and knew exactly where to be, what to do and who you were helping.
You may have been the principal: the key character, the master mind who selected the bank, made the plan, knew where to get into the vault and how much money you would take.
You may be an accomplice: someone whose role it was to allow the crime to occur through some pre-planning to the actual crime. For example you provided the map to the bank showing exactly where the entrances, exits and teller desks, the offices and the vault were located.
Proof That You Were An Accomplice
Proving that someone intentionally aided the commission of a crime determines whether someone is an accomplice. The test of this facet is whether your intent was to help the crime succeed.
If you drove the getaway car, held the weapons until the crime was going to be committed, bought the guns and ammunition for the crime, provided a key to the bank doors, hit a guard over the head and knocked him out all in the execution of the bank robbery, youre an accomplice.
Even if you, an accomplice don’t go in and rob the bank, your pre-crime support and help makes you just as guilty as the bank robber.
Common legal terms for ways in which one could be an accomplice:
- A principal in the first degree: The person who carried out the crime
- A principal in the second degree (aka an aider and abettor): A helper who was at the crime scene in a passive role like a lookout
- An accessory before the fact: A helper not present at the crime scene
Accessory After the Fact
An accessory after the fact is someone who, knowing that a felon has finished committing a crime (usually the crime has to be a felony), helps the felon avoid arrest or trial. In most states, accessories after the fact face far less punishment than accomplices or principals.
These descriptions may seem understandable, but criminal law is complex no matter your role. Work with Winter Park Criminal Defense attorney Roddy Lanigan immediately if you are arrested.