Accessory After the Fact Defense Attorney

A person who, with knowledge of the other person’s guilt, assists a felon in hindering their detection, arrest, trial, or punishment is an accessory after the fact.

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What You Need to Know About Accessory After the Fact Felony Charges

What is an Accessory After the Fact? An Accessory After the Fact is someone who assists another person after they’ve committed a crime to help them avoid detection, arrest, trial, or punishment. Usually, the assistance is to cover up the crime or shield the perpetrator from criminal liability. Anyone facing these serious allegations should immediately consult with an experienced Accessory After the Fact defense lawyer. Someone is guilty if the prosecutor can prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • someone other than the defendant committed a crime
  • the defendant helped or assisted that person to avoid discovery, arrest, trial, or punishment
  • when the defendant gave help or assistance, they knew the other person had committed a felony
  • the defendant intended to help the other person avoid discovery, arrest, trial, or punishment

Accessory After the Fact Definition: A legal term referring to someone who knowingly assists and helps another person evade arrest, trial, or conviction for a criminal offense.

Accessory After the Fact Sentence and Penalty

Accessory After the Fact is considered a “common law offense” because Michigan doesn’t have a statute that specifically created or established this crime. A common law crime is one that developed over time through judicial decisions. However, Michigan law sets the penalty for common law crimes.

According to the common law penalty statute, the sentence for Accessory After the Fact is up to five (5) years in prison, five (5) years of probation, and a fine of up to $10,000.00, or both. There is no mandatory minimum jail sentence.

In addition to the potential jail time for Accessory After the Fact, there are also indirect or collateral consequences of a felony conviction, including loss of civil rights (such as the ability to vote or possess firearms), difficulty obtaining or keeping employment, loss of a professional license, damaged credit, problems with securing housing, damaged reputation, immigration issues, child custody problems, etc. The personal, professional, and social impacts on individuals accused of being an accessory after the fact can play into the defense strategies regarding plea bargaining and sentencing.

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State vs. Federal Accessory After the Fact Charges

Unlike Michigan, the federal government has an Accessory After the Fact law, 18 USC §3. According to the federal statute, someone is guilty if they knowingly receive, relieve, comfort, or assist a criminal to hinder or prevent apprehension, trial, or punishment. The penalty for a federal Accessory After the Fact conviction is imprisonment up to one-half of the maximum prison term and fines for the primary crime. If the principal crime is punishable by life or death, the maximum for Accessory After the Fact is 15 years. Respected, experienced federal defense attorneys, such as those with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., know the strategies, defenses, and procedures unique to the United States District Court.

Common Defenses Against Accessory After the Fact Charges

It is important to remember that when the prosecution charges someone as an Accessory After the Fact, the allegation is that they assisted or helped the suspected principal offender. Proving the alleged accessory’s guilt might not be easy for the prosecution if they are up against an experienced criminal defense attorney. In many cases, the prosecution will only have circumstantial evidence of intent and knowledge.

One defense against an Accessory After the Fact is a lack of knowledge that a crime occurred. If the alleged accused had no idea there was a crime, they are innocent.

If the defendant was just a bystander, they have no liability to be an Accessory After the Fact. In Michigan, unless there is a legally established duty, it is not a crime to witness a crime and do nothing to report it, even if the witness approves of the crime. If the accused accessory witnessed a crime and did not act to help the alleged criminal escape or cover up the crime, they are not guilty.

Lastly, if the principal offender threatened the defendant with severe or imminent harm, the alleged accessory is not guilty due to coercion and duress. Suppose the defendant provided assistance or help after the crime because they were under duress and afraid of what would happen to them if they did not help. If true, a skilled defense lawyer will fight for the prosecution to dismiss all charges.

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Case Examples

LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has represented thousands of clients facing felony charges such as Accessory After the Fact. Some examples of prior cases (although the names are changed) include the following:

  • Hiding Evidence: Emily learned about the crime after her friend committed a burglary and decided to help. She allowed her friend to store stolen electronics in her garage and later helped him sell them online. By concealing the stolen goods and assisting in their disposal, Emily became an accessory after the fact to the burglary.
  • Providing a False Alibi: Mark’s brother was involved in a hit-and-run accident. When the police began investigating, Mark lied, saying his brother was with him at the time of the accident, providing a false alibi. By misleading the authorities to protect his brother, Mark became an accessory after the fact to the hit-and-run.
  • Aiding in Escape: Sarah’s coworker confessed to her that he had embezzled money from their employer. Instead of reporting him, Sarah gave him some money and advised him to leave town to avoid arrest. Her financial assistance and advice to flee made her an accessory after the fact to the embezzlement.

Precharge Investigation and Intervention

If someone is under investigation and suspected of being an Accessory After the Fact, it is vital they retain a qualified, respected criminal defense lawyer immediately. In many cases, charges can be avoided altogether with proactive legal representation. The defense attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented hundreds of clients on a precharge basis. Precharge criminal defense is a nuanced area of the criminal defense law, and few lawyers have the experience it takes to effectively help a client avoid or reduce charges, negotiate for a voluntary surrender and low bond, and take necessary measures to ensure a lenient sentence.

Accessory After the Fact

Impact of Technology and Social Media

In modern prosecutions, law enforcement relies heavily on analyzing digital and social media, technology, and the forensic analysis of electronic devices. Anyone under investigation for Accessory After the Fact allegations should be aware of the high likelihood that law enforcement will search their social media accounts, search history, and electronic devices, such as cell phones, tablets, and computers.

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Accessory After the Fact Defense Lawyer

The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has extensive experience defending clients facing criminal charges in Michigan. Our defense lawyers know every technique and procedure to build the most vigorous, robust defense possible against Accessory After the Fact charges. We have an unparalleled track record of success for clients seeking generous plea bargains, lenient sentences, dismissal of charges, and acquittals at trial. Call us for a free consultation. We will take the time to talk with you, answer your questions, and work with you to develop a winning defense!

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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