Under Kentucky law, you could face criminal charges for helping another person after he or she has committed a crime. This help need not be planned in advance and you don’t need to know the crime will occur.
You can be considered an accessory to a crime if you participate knowingly and voluntarily in the commission of a crime. Acting as an accessory can be before or after the fact (the commission of the crime). You need not be present at the scene of the crime when it was committed in order to possibly face criminal charges. The person accused of committing the underlying crime is called the “principal.”
An accessory before the fact would be a person who aids, abets, assists, incites or encourages the principal in the commission of the crime (such as providing a weapon for an assault or gasoline for an arson).
Kentucky accessory after the fact examples
Examples of situations where a person could be charged with accessory after the fact include:
- After the victim was beaten to death, an individual threw the weapon into a river in hopes it wouldn’t be found.
- A man was charged with rape of a child. His wife was charged with being an accessory after the fact because she withheld information from the police.
- A man was charged with attempted criminal homicide. The person who drove the accused from the scene was charged with being an accessory after the fact.
- A man is accused of murder and his wife is accused of being an accessory after the fact. The victim’s body was found dismembered and scattered near where he lived with the couple. The wife is accused of helping her husband cut up the body.
What needs to be proven and what may be defenses to a Kentucky accessory after the fact charge
To convict a person for being an accessory after the fact, the prosecution would need to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that . . .
- The accused had knowledge that the crime had been committed.
- The accused helped the principal with the specific purpose or design of hindering or preventing that person’s apprehension, trial or punishment.
There could be any number of possible defenses, depending on the facts of the case. They include:
- No crime was committed, so it was impossible to be an accessory afterward.
- You had no knowledge of the crime. You may have done the things you’re accused of doing, but unless you had knowledge that a crime took place, you shouldn’t be found guilty. You may have driven the principal from one place to another or disposed of something he asked you to get rid of, but without knowing that the principal committed a crime, you can’t be an accessory.
- You had no intent to help the principal avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction or punishment. You may have unintentionally helped the principal escape arrest without knowing he or she is trying to avoid arrest or that he committed a crime. If you didn’t know of the crime, you couldn’t have the intent to help the principal evade the consequences of committing it.
- If you provided help to the principal because he or she threatened to hurt you, you lack the mental state needed to be convicted as an accessory. Because of the threat of violent, immediate force that would do you harm, you performed an act which you would not have otherwise performed.
Most criminal cases are resolved through a plea bargain agreement where a defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge or an acceptable sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. If your defenses aren’t strong enough to prevent a conviction and you’ve been charged as an accessory after the fact, prosecutors may be open to a favorable plea bargain agreement in exchange for cooperation and testimony against the principal.
If you’re charged with a Kentucky accessory after the fact, contact the Carman Law Firm
Society tends to negatively view anyone charged with a crime, regardless of how the case turns out. The mission of the Carman Law Firm is based on the belief that every accused person is innocent until proven guilty. We understand that bad things can happen to good people.
If you have been charged with being an accessory after the fact or any crime in Kentucky, the Carman Law Firm offers you experienced, effective representation. Dan Carman has practiced law in Kentucky for years, and he also served as in-house counsel for an infantry battalion when he was deployed to Iraq as a U.S. Marine. From arrest to appeal, he has the necessary expertise to effectively maneuver your case through the criminal process. Contact him by phone or by filling out our online form.