Philadelphia Defense Attorney for Accomplice Charges
Not every crime is committed alone. Two or more people might come together, plan a crime, and carry it out. In many cases, each person has a very different part to play in the crime. Someone might be holding the gun while someone else is driving the getaway car. People often assume that your charges will be less serious when you play a smaller role in a crime. This is not true.
If you are charged as an accomplice, you can be charged for the full crime, not just your small part. This means even if you were not holding the gun in a bank heist, you could still face weapons charges. However, there are ways to defend yourself against accomplice liability. If you were forced to participate or withdrew your participation before the crime began, you might avoid some criminal charges.
If you helped someone else commit a crime, you might be considered an accomplice or accessory. Our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys have handled numerous types of cases and can help you fight your charges. The team at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long offers free case reviews for criminal defendants. Call us at (215) 302-0171.
Who is Considered an Accomplice in Philadelphia?
If two or more people commit a crime, one person can be considered the “principle,” or the person actually carrying out the crime. The other person might be considered an accomplice or accessory if they did something to help the principal carry out the crime. For example, if your friend runs inside a bank and robs it while you drive the getaway car, your friend would be the principal, and you would be the accomplice.
To be considered an accomplice, your participation in a crime does not need to be significant. While a getaway driver could be charged as an accomplice, someone who contributes substantially less to the crime could also be charged. You could be charged even if you were not present at the crime. For example, if you lent your car to the bank robbers to use as a getaway car, you could be charged as an accomplice even though you were not present at the robbery.
The key to being convicted as an accomplice to a crime is your knowing participation. There must be an understanding that what you are doing is helping someone else further a criminal purpose. If your participation is unknowing or you were tricked into it, you might avoid criminal prosecution. Talk to our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys for more information about being charged as an accomplice to a crime.
Criminal Charges for Accomplices in Philadelphia
The law surrounding criminal charges for accomplices or accessories to crimes can be found under 18 Pa.C.S. § 306. Under this statute, you may be found guilty of an offense committed by your own conduct or the conduct of someone else you are legally accountable for, or both. The law spells out two elements regarding liability for another’s conduct, at least one of which must be satisfied for you to be found guilty.
First, you may be charged as an accomplice to a crime if you intend to further the crime and solicit someone else to commit it or help someone else plan and execute the crime. Second, you could be charged as an accomplice if a statute explicitly states your conduct constitutes accomplice liability. If you are charged as an accomplice, our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can help.
As an accomplice, you may be charged for any and all crimes committed even if you were not the one carrying out the offenses. In the bank robbery example, this means the getaway driver may be charged with the bank robbery even if they did not actually rob the bank but only drove the car.
The situation becomes tricky when the principal begins committing other crimes the accomplice might not have planned for. For example, the getaway driver and the robber might plan to rob the bank and agree not to hurt anyone. However, the robber might panic and shoot the bank teller, killing them. Even though the getaway driver did not intend for the murder to happen, they may still be charged with “felony murder” because it was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the bank robbery.
Whenever two or more people get together and plan a crime, they may face conspiracy charges. Conspiracy charges may apply whether the crime in question was successfully committed. If the crime failed, you might still be guilty of conspiracy for agreeing to commit the crime in the first place. On that note, if the crime is unsuccessful or incomplete, you can still be charged with criminal attempt.
Proving You Were Not an Accomplice in Philadelphia
While the law regarding accomplice liability sounds very strict with little room for argument, there are numerous ways you can defend yourself. First and foremost, as mentioned above, you need the intent to commit a crime to be charged as an accomplice. Being tricked or forced into participating in the offense may be used as a defense.
Alternatively, we can argue that there was no crime, and therefore you cannot be charged as an accomplice. For example, suppose you helped a friend take a bicycle from a neighbor’s open garage. You could be charged as an accomplice to theft. However, if the bike actually belonged to your friend and the neighbor had stolen it, there is no crime because you cannot steal what rightfully belongs to you.
We can also argue that you withdrew your participation from the crime. However, for withdrawal to be an effective defense, it must render the crime ineffective, or you must alert the police. If you withdraw, but it is too late to stop the crime, you have no defense.
You also cannot be an accomplice to a crime of which you are a victim. If your actions contributed to a crime, but that crime also victimized you, you might have a valid defense. Talk to our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers about your defense options.
Call Our Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorneys
As an accomplice, you could be charged with a crime you technically did not commit but helped someone else commit. Our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can conduct a free review of your case and advise you on what steps to take next. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 to get help now.