Written by attorney Daniel P. Hilf

Aiding and Abetting, Accessory After the Fact, and Attempted Offenses

Aiding and Abetting means all words or actions by an individual which may support, encourage, or incite the commission of a crime. In Michigan, an aider and abettor is just as liable for as the principal individual engaging in the criminal act. Hence, the getaway driver to a bank robbery can be charged with bank robbery as well, even though the driver did not go inside the bank, announce the crime, and steal money from individuals inside that bank. Even if the principal to a crime is not prosecuted, or is found not guilty at trial, the prosecution can still pursue aider and abettor charges against any participant in the crime.

The amount of the advice, aid, or encouragement given does not matter as long as it had the effect of inducing or assisting in the commission of a crime. For a specific intent crime, the aider and abettor must have had the requisite intent to commit the crime, or must have known that the actual perpetrator had the required intent. The aider and abettor does not need to know every detail of the crime, as long as he or she knew that the perpetrator(s) had the specific intent to do what they planned, and assisted with the end of aiding in accomplishing the criminal enterprise.

However, mere presence alone is insufficient to convict, even if the person present had knowledge that a crime was being committed. Even if the person merely present agreed with what was taking place, but did nothing to advise, aid, or encourage the commission of the crime, that individual is not guilty of the offense committed. However, if an individual was a member of a gang and was present during the commission of a crime by another gang member, the individual may be deemed to have supported, encouraged, or incited the criminal act of another gang member.

An Accessory after the Fact is an individual who knowingly assists a perpetrator of a crime after the crime has been completed. Even if the perpetrator is not convicted, an individual can be found guilty of being an accessory after the fact as long as the prosecution can prove that the crime occurred, and the individual offered assistance after the crime. An Example of accessory after the fact is a person who assists a wanted felon from hiding from the law. Accessory after the Fact of a felony is usually a 5 year maximum felony under Michigan Compiled Law section 750.360.

An Attempted offense is established by the Prosecution by showing beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual had the intent to commit a crime, and did an overt act towards the commission of the crime, but failed to consummate the crime. An example of this is an individual who is about to go inside a bank that is stopped by the police before entering. The individual is wearing a ski mask, has a gun, and a note written on a deposit slip to the bank that reads “give me all of the money from the vault". A possible defense that can be raised is that the individual got cold feet and abandoned the crime before it could be completed. The penalty for attempt is usually (but not always) half the penalty of the original crime. Hence, the penalty for Larceny in a Building is a maximum 4 years in prison; the penalty for attempted larceny in a building is a maximum 2 years in prison. In some jurisdictions it is common for the Prosecution to offer a plea bargain for a felony offense to an attempted felony for the same offense in order to try to resolve the case.

Sometimes in life you only have 1 opportunty to reach the right result. Hiring the right criminal defense lawyer may be one of the most important decisions you make for yourself and your family. There are many lawyers who claim to do more than what they are able - just as there are many surgeons in the world that are no better than butchers. Do not settle for a legal hack job. Practicing law is a skill that develops over time with experience, commitment, dedication, and God given talent. There are no amateur attorneys at Hilf & Hilf, PLC – only professionals that are guided by the humanity in the individuals we serve, and the drive not to settle for what is easy over what is right.

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