In the state of Florida, it is a crime to assist or help anyone who has committed a crime. Aiding and abetting, or the crime of accessory after the fact, cannot be levied as a charge against anyone unless the underlying crime is complete. The person who assists the criminal, the accessory, also doesn’t have to witness the actual crime. In order for someone to be convicted, the prosecution must prove the accessory knew or was provided sufficient information to believe the offense was committed by the person being assisted.
If the state finds someone guilty of the crime of accessory, the penalty will depend on the severity of the original crime. Someone who helps a person accused of a capital offense will be committing a 1st-degree felony. If convicted, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties unless a mandatory minimum sentence is required under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code:
- Up to 30 years in prison
- Up to 30 years of probation
- Up to $10,000 in fines
For those who help a person guilty of a life felony or a 1st-degree felony, the crime of accessory is a 2nd-degree felony. A judge can impose any combination of the following penalties if there is no mandatory minimum sentence required:
- Up to 15 years in prison
- Up to 15 years of probation
- Up to $10,000 in fines
People who assist those accused of a 2nd-degree or 3rd-degree felony are committing the crime of accessory of the 3rd degree. If found guilty a judge can impose any combination of the following if there is no mandatory minimum sentence required:
- Up to 5 years in prison
- Up to 5 years of probation
- Up to $5,000 in fines
If someone assists a person accused of 3rd-degree felony assigned a Level 1 or 2 offense, he or she is guilty of a 1st-degree misdemeanor. Conviction of a 1st-degree misdemeanor can result in any combination of the following penalties:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Up to 1 year of probation
- Up to $1,000 in fines
There are two exemptions to a charge of aiding and abetting. A person can’t be charged as an accessory after the fact if they are related to the suspect as a spouse, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, or sibling by blood or marriage. However, an uncle, aunt, or cousin could be charged with aiding and abetting, though they are also technically related to the subject by blood or marriage.
However, anyone can be charged as an accessory after the fact if the underlying felony involves child abuse, child neglect, or a child’s death. The Related Person Exemption doesn’t apply in these cases.
If you’re being accused of aiding and abetting a person convicted of a crime, don’t hesitate to call our skilled Florida criminal defense attorneys. Musca Law is dedicated to providing people accused of crimes with an aggressive criminal defense that focuses on the strengths of your case and exploits the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Let us see how we can help you.
Call us at (888) 484-5057 or fill out our online form to get started on your case today.