Do Not Allow Yourself To Become An Accessory After The Fact
Upon being linked to a state or federal crime, you could face criminal charges even without materially participating. The people you associate with might very well drag you into tentacles of the legal system. How so? When someone has committed a crime, interacting with the individual in certain ways could lead you to becoming an "accessory after the fact." If charged, ignorance of the law is not a viable defense so you must know how to avoid any actions that label you an accessory.
Accessory After The Fact Defined
An "accessory after the fact" refers to a person who knows someone has committed a crime and helps the person to evade law enforcement or the courts in some way.
Do your actions have to be demonstrative in order for you to be an accessory after the fact? No, there is no such thing as "too small" an amount of help.
Any Support Can Be Considered Criminal
If you know the person is trying to flee the law and you lend the person $20 for gas money, you are an accessory. Stating it was "only $20" is not a defense. Rather, the statement would be an admission of guilt.
You fueled the vehicle the wanted felon used to escape. No matter what the circumstances are surrounding your gift of $20 (He/she really didn't need the gas money, the police were a block away and ready to arrest him/her, etc), your financial support to the fugitive reflects the commission of a crime.
Other instances of helping a fugitive evade arrest could reasonably include:
- Advising on what "no-questioned-asked" motel would make the best place to hide out.
- Providing better directions to reduce potential interactions with highway patrol.
- Taking messages for the person so he/she does not have to risk exposure.
Ultimately, it is best to reasonably avoid dealing with or helping someone who has committed a felony. Doing so is only going to get you into trouble.
Contact the Police and an Attorney
Not informing the police of any information you possess is also going to get you in trouble. Stating "I didn't want to get involved" is yet another in a long line of less-than-acceptable defenses.
Those worried about getting into legal trouble may wish to call a state or federal attorney before contacting law enforcement. The attorney will advise you of both your rights and the best action to take.
If the police reach you first, it might be advisable to state you wish to cooperate, but would prefer to have a lawyer present due to the seriousness of the situation.
For more information, contact an experienced lawyer from a firm like the Law Offices of Craig Weintraub.