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Tampa Criminal Lawyer > Blog > Criminal > Accessory or Accomplice: What is the Difference?

Accessory or Accomplice: What is the Difference?


If you were recently charged with the offense of accessory after the fact of a crime, or as an accomplice to a crime, you may be confused about what this means, or how serious the penalties may be. A criminal accessory is not the same offense or definition as a criminal accomplice. The distinction can mean the difference between a felony and misdemeanor, mandatory prison sentences or probation. Whether you were charged with a felony or multiple charges, call attorney Bryant Scriven today to schedule a consultation. It’s critical you act quickly to preserve your rights.

What is an Accomplice?

In Florida, a criminal accomplice is defined as “anyone who aids, abets, counsels, hires or otherwise procures such offense to be committed.” The prosecution must establish that the crime was committed, that the accomplice assisted in the offense and the accomplice had specific intent to facilitate the commission of the crime by the principal perpetrator. The prosecution has the burden of proof of establishing all the elements of the statute.  in order to convict defendants. The difference between a conspiratory and an accomplice is planning. The conspiratory plots and plans a potential crime, but may not participate in the commission of the crime itself. The accomplice assists the principal actor in the commission of a felony or misdemeanor. For example, the getaway driver at the scene of a robbery is considered an accomplice.               

What is an Accessory?  

An accessory after the fact is defined by the Florida State Legislature as any person who assists the principal offender or accessory before the fact in the commission of a third, second or first degree felony, or in the commission of a crime of a domestic nature or child abuse. Unlike accomplices, accessories are not present at the scene of the crime, do not provide assistance at the time of the crime, don’t conspire to commit a crime, and didn’t aid and abet the principal in furtherance of a crime.

Rather, an accessory learns of knowledge of a potential crime and does not notify the authorities or  conversely provides assistance to the alleged suspect.. Or the accessory after the fact learns of a crime after it has been committed and assists, houses or otherwise helps the criminal to evade police detection, detainment or helps to hide or destroy evidence. Harboring a fugitive is a crime in the state of Florida. If a capital felony occurred, the accessory after the fact is charged with a felony in the first degree. 

Punishments for Accessories & Accomplices

Punishments for accessories and accomplices range from probation to misdemeanor charges in the first degree and even  felony charges in the first degree. Indictments are dependent on the knowledge and involvement of accessories, and criminal involvement. If a capital crime occurred, meaning a homicide or murder took place in the commission of a felony, the accessory or accomplice is charged with a first degree felony. In Florida, a first degree felony is penalized up to thirty years in prison. Sentencing may also include a $10,000 fine. Accomplices can be charged as principals in the first degree of a murder even if they did not pull the trigger or physically kill the victim. This is because they have aided and abetted the principal suspect in commission of the crime. Defendants could spend life in prison for another person’s actions if they are convicted as principal accomplices. 

Call Attorney Bryant Scriven Today

If you or a loved one were charged with a criminal offense, as a principal suspect, conspirator, accessory or accomplice, you must take immediate action. You have the right to remain silent and you have the right to request an attorney. Tampa criminal attorney Bryant Scriven is a former criminal prosecutor with years of experience in criminal law. He understands the severity of the charges against you. A criminal conviction can result in prison time, hefty fines, and supervised probation. Criminal convictions also jeopardize your reputation and your employment. Call Attorney Scriven today to schedule a consultation and review your options.



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