When someone commits a crime, they’re usually looking for a way to hide from the police.  Those who lend assistance to a felon to help them avoid capture or arrest can be charged with being an accessory after the fact.  When you lend help, you won’t be charged with the same crime as the felon, but with a separate crime.

How Can I Be Found Guilty Of Being An Accessory After The Fact?

There are four main parts of being an accessory after the fact.  This includes: commission of a felony, knowledge of felony, knowledge of felon’s identity and giving false information. When a court examined whether there is a commission of a felony, the court examines what the felon has been charged with and if they have been convicted.  It isn’t enough that the defendant mistakenly believed that the person he was assisting had committed a felony.  However, it isn’t necessary that the person aided have been formally charged with the felony, or even that the police know of the felony.

The person charged with being an accessory after the face must also have known that a felony was committed.  This can be very difficult to prove because the prosecution must show that the person had actual knowledge of the crime, not just suspected that the felony was committed.  The prosecution must also show that they had an understanding of the essential elements of the crime.  For example, if Ralph finds a gun and he knows that the gun was illegally in the possession of Bob (who Ralph knows is a felon).  However, Ralph doesn’t know that Bob has recently used the gun in a murder.  Ralph helps Bob destroy the gun.  Ralph couldn’t be charged as an accessory after the fact to murder since he didn’t know that the gun was used in the murder.  However, Ralph could be charged with being an accessory after the fact in regards to the gun violation

The prosecution must also show that the person knew the felon personally.  That doesn’t mean that the person has to know the name of the felon, but he must at least know the identity.  For example, if someone sees a robber escaping and decides to help him hide from the police, then he might be charged as an accessory after the fact.

Finally, the person must actively try to hide the felon.  The person must do more than refuse to give information to the authorities, but usually has to give false information or some other means of hiding a person.  However, in many states, it is a crime to give false information to police officers.  In some states giving false information with the intent of diverting suspicion is enough to be charged as an accomplice (meaning you’re charged with whatever the felon is charged with).

What do you think?  Is it fair for someone to hide a felon to be charged with a crime?  Should those who try to hide a criminal face the same penalty as the felon ?

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