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Aiding And Abetting: Getting Criminally Charged Without Committing The Crime

Did you know there are certain cases where you can be criminally charged for a crime without even committing the crime itself? Aiding and abetting is one such phenomenon where you can be held liable for a crime without actually "pulling the trigger," so to speak. You might have recently been arrested and are unsure just exactly what the charges mean. Luckily, in this article you'll learn a bit about the ins and outs of aiding and abetting — how you adequately legally define aiding and abetting, how aiding and abetting differs from conspiracy and what defenses your lawyer might use against your aiding and abetting charges.

What is Aiding and Abetting?

In the United States, aiding and abetting is a criminal provision. It is usually a charge levied against someone (or multiple people) who cannot actually be charged with a crime itself, but were used as agents of sorts in the crime by the person who was or is being charged with another criminal act.

Since these charges are actually brought upon people independent of whether the principal crime was committed, someone can be charged with aiding and abetting even if the person who actually committed the crime was found by a jury to be innocent.

Aiding and abetting also covers a number of other forms of provisions. For example, it covers intent and extenuating circumstances. There are several extenuating circumstances where aiding and abetting charges will either be dropped or the person being charged stands little chance of being found guilty in a court of law. For example, if a person is a getaway driver for a bank robber, then that person can be found to be either guilty under aiding and abetting or conspiracy depending on the situation.

However, If a gun was held to the head of a random person and he or she was forced to driver a car as the getaway driver, this would be an extenuating circumstance wherein the case would most likely be dropped.

How Does It Differ From Conspiracy?

Aiding and abetting and conspiracy are two forms of charges that are often times confused by laymen, and for good reason. Basically, the two terms both refer to charges that can be brought upon someone who did not actually commit a criminal act. The primary difference between the two is that in the case of aiding and abetting, the crime must have actually occurred. The principal may not necessarily be guilty of said act, but the crime must have been committed regardless.

A conspiracy charge occurs when people plan on committing a crime. A conspiracy charge is levied when the crime has not actually occurred, but the potential defendants have plans to commit said crime.

What Defenses Might My Lawyer Use Against My Aiding and Abetting Charges?

The primary defense your criminal defense lawyer will most likely use is innocence by dint of ignorance. This means that, yes, you acted as an accomplice in the crime, but you were unaware that a crime was actually taking place. This is a defense by way of intent.

For example, if your friend wanted to rob a convenience store, but he or she did not inform you that he or she was robbing a convenience store. You wait in the car while he or she goes inside, and when he or she runs back to the car, he or she behooves you to drive. Your lawyer can claim innocence on your behalf because you were unaware of the crime taking place and unaware of your role as an accomplice in this particular crime.

Hopefully, this article has given you some insight into the world of aiding and abetting, and you will have some idea of the consequences of aiding and abetting in a crime.