What is an accessory?
Accessories are people “who, after the commission of any felony, conceal or aid the offender, with knowledge that he has committed a felony, and with intent that he may avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment” (Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 173).
If you’ve been charged as an accessory to a crime, it’s important that you retain the services of a skilled defense attorney in Claremore.
Accessory versus Principal
The other type of parties to a crime is a principal. Principals are “concerned in the commission of a crime…whether they directly commit the act…or aid and abet…though not present” (Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 172). To aid or abet means to assist or encourage.
While an accessory isn’t involved in the commission of the crime, a principal might be. A principal may also be not present at the crime but still involved by assisting or encouraging the person committing the crime.
There may be two principals in a crime. The one who actually commits the crime and the one who assists them from a distance. For example, someone breaks into a building and they have someone in their ear telling them how to disarm the alarms and get to their target.
Both parties are principals, but the burglar may face worse charges than the person helping them.
Using the same example, an accessory isn’t involved in the crime. They probably don’t even know it’s happening. However, they may catch the person in the act and be bribed or otherwise convinced to stay silent.
Alternatively, the burglar may go to his parents’ house after the crime. He may tell his parents what he did, and they may want to protect him. If they withhold information from the police, they become an accessory.
Principals face harsher punishments than accessories, but they are both considered criminals in the eyes of Oklahoma law. If you’re being charged as an accessory, get in touch with a Claremore defense attorney today for your best chance at your desired outcome.
Punishments for Accessories to a Crime
The punishments a person faces as an accessory to a crime vary based on the crime committed by the person to whom they were an accessory. Being an accessory is considered a felony, and someone can only be an accessory to a felony, not a misdemeanor.
If the felony someone was an accessory to is punishable by imprisonment for at least four years, they are subject to imprisonment for no more than half as long as the longest term prescribed upon a felony conviction. For example, if the principal receives a conviction with a ten year sentence, the accessory can be sentenced to no more than five years in jail.
If the felony is punishable by imprisonment for less than four years, the accessory can be sentenced to imprisonment in county jail for up to one year.
If the felony is punishable by a fine only, the accessory can be fined no more than half of the maximum fine prescribed upon a felony conviction. For example, if the principal is fined $10,000, the accessory can’t be fined more than $5,000.
If the felony is punishable by both imprisonment and a fine, the accessory may be sentenced to no more than half the jail time and half the fine that the principal is sentenced to. The bail amount for an accessory charge is the same amount as the bail amount for the felony the person was an accessory to.
However, in the case of murder, the punishments for being an accessory are more severe. If the felony is first degree murder, the accessory can be sentenced to prison for at least five years and up to 45 years. The bail amount for an accessory to first degree murder is $500,000.
For second degree murder, the accessory can be sentenced to at least five years in prison and no more than 25 years (Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 175). The bail amount for an accessory to second degree murder is $250,000.
If you’ve been charged as an accessory to a felony, you could face steep fines and jail time. A Claremore felony defense attorney can offer a strong defense that can keep you from a conviction or out of jail.
Free Consultation with a Claremore Defense Attorney
The defense attorneys at Wirth Law Office – Claremore can assist you with their legal expertise if you’ve been charged as an accessory to a felony. For a free consultation with an attorney, call (918) 213-0950 or fill out the form at the top of the page.