Defending Against Allegations of Aiding and Abetting
Helping to commit or cover up a criminal act is classified as aiding and abetting, an allegation which, if charged, can carry the same punishment—if not a more serious one— than the person who actually committed the crime. What is worse is that you can still be charged with aiding and abetting a crime even if the one who actually committed the crime is found innocent or acquitted. Chapter 7 of the Texas Penal Code disregards the distinction between a principal actor and an accomplice when criminal activity is involved, so merely assisting in the commission of a crime does not earn you a lighter punishment. This makes it imperative to have legal representation if these charges are levied against you. While the prospect of such unforgiving charges can be daunting, Austin criminal defense attorney Ian Inglis wants you to know that you can fight the accusations against you.
As long as an individual’s actions can be construed as having intent to assist, encourage, or commit a crime to completion, they can be charged with aiding and abetting. As such, a reasonable defense against aiding and abetting must prove that intent was not there. This can be done in many ways, including:
- Taking measures to discourage the crime, making it clear at the time of the crime that you do not consent to engage in criminal activity, or preventing the commission of the crime to the best of your ability
- Making it known that you committed the crime under duress, were threatened, or forced to aid in the crime
- Arguing that you were merely present during the crime and did not assist in the actual commission
- Proving yourself an accessory after the crime was committed rather than an accomplice, allowing yourself to possibly obtain a reduced sentence
Even if you disprove intent, this does not guarantee your innocence. Furthermore, in some places, aiding and abetting can be charged as a federal offense as well as on the state level.
Consult with a Criminal Defense Attorney in Austin
Though it can be complicated defending against aiding and abetting charges, it is important to take immediate action as soon as these allegations are weighed against you to strengthen your defense. If you or someone you know has been accused of aiding and abetting a crime, contact Ian Inglis Attorney at Law at (512) 472-1950 to discuss the particulars of your charge.