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Accessory After the Fact, Aiding and Abetting, and Principal in the First Degree

When you are charged with a criminal offense in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or any other part of South Florida, you may be characterized as a principal or as an accessory to the crime. Even though you may not be considered the main perpetrator of the crime, as an accessory, you could face criminal penalties just as severe as if you were the main perpetrator. Prosecuting attorneys in Broward and Miami Dade Counties often use Florida Law regarding accessory and principal theories as a tool for prosecution. Whether the crime involves drug trafficking, violence, or white collar aspects, you could face severe penalties if charged as an accessory or principal to the crime. Aiding and abetting is a more common phrase referring to criminal accomplice liability. It generally requires three basic elements, including an underlying crime of the principal, knowledge of the crime or the intent to help the principal commit the crime, and actual help to the principal in committing the crime. If the criminal suspect helps another person commit or attempt to commit a crime, the criminal suspect is a principal and must be treated as if he or she did all criminal acts that the other person committed, but the criminal suspect must have had a conscious intent that the criminal act be done and the criminal suspect must have done some act or said some word which was intended to and which did incite, cause, encourage, assist, or advise the other person to commit or attempt to commit the criminal act. To be a principal, the criminal suspect does not need to be present during the criminal act’s commission or attempted commission. To prove the criminal act of Accessory After the Fact, the State Attorney must prove that the principal committed a felony, that after the felony was committed, the criminal suspect maintained, assisted, or gave other aid to the principal knowing that the principal committed a felony and intending that the principal could avoid or escape criminal arrest or punishment. Keep in mind that prosecutors at the State Attorney’s Office make the decision of whether to file a criminal charge, whether in Miami Dade County, Fort Lauderdale, or any other part of South Florida. Having a criminal defense lawyer speak with the State Attorney before he or she makes this decision is very wise. Your Fort Lauderdale or Miami Aiding and Abetting Defense Attorney can possibly convince the prosecuting attorney to decline to prosecute you. Another option the prosecutor may choose after speaking to your lawyer is a lesser charge. Criminal defense attorney Kenneth Hassett has the skill and expertise to argue the fine distinctions outlined in the Florida Criminal Statutes in your favor.


The information on this page does not represent legal advice. Florida Statues obtained from Online Sunshine, www.leg.state.fl.us, the official site of the Florida Legislature. Because the law is continually changing, some of the provisions contained herein may be out of date. It is always wise to seek counsel from an experienced criminal attorney like Kenneth Hassett.

If you have been charged as an Accessory After the Fact or a Principal in the First Degree to a criminal offense in Broward or Miami-Dade County, call Criminal Defense Attorney Kenneth P. Hassett.