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What Is the Crime of Accessory?

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Question: What Is the Crime of Accessory?
Answer: The charge of accessory can be brought against anyone who helps someone else commit a crime, either before the crime takes place or afterward. If you know someone who is planning to commit a crime and you do anything to help - plan the crime, loan them money or tools, or even just give advice - you can be charged with accessory before the fact.

Likewise, if you know someone who has already committed a crime and you do anything to help - such as give them a place to hide or help them destroy evidence - you can be charged with accessory after the fact.

Even if you were not present when the crime was actually committed and did not take part in the crime itself, you can face stiff penalties if you do anything to help the person who did do the crime. In some states, you can be charged as an accessory even if you did nothing to help the person who committed the crime, but you knew about the crime and did not report it to the authorities.

In most jurisdictions, the penalties for being an accessory is less than being the person who actually commits the crime, but in some jurisdictions an accessory can receive the same punishment as the primary criminal.

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