Aiding and Abetting

 

Whitey Bulger’s girlfriend, Catherine Greig, was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping fugitive Whitey Bulger on his 16-year run from the FBI.

Very often, it seems that there is a misconception about the consequences of a conviction for aiding and abetting a crime. Because the penalties for a conviction can be very steep in Nevada, where there is no legal distinction made between those committing a crime and those who assist them, anyone who has been charged with the aiding and abetting of any crime should immediately seek the counsel of an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in order to improve their options for the defense of this charge.


What is the Legal Definition of “Aiding and Abetting” in Nevada?

As defined by the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS 195.020), a charge for aiding and abetting a crime can be applied to someone who is involved in the following way:

“Every person concerned in the commission of a felony, gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor, whether the person directly commits the act constituting the offense, or aid and abets in its commission, and whether present or absent; and every person who, directly or indirectly, counsels, encourages, hires, commands, induces or otherwise procures another to commit a felony, gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor is a principal, and shall be proceeded against and punished as such.  The fact that the person aided, abetted, counseled, encouraged, hired, commanded, induced or procured, could not or did not entertain a criminal intent shall not be a defense to any person aiding, abetting, counseling, encouraging, hiring, commanding, inducing or procuring him or her.”

More concisely, this means that in Nevada, there is no legal distinction made between someone who physically carries out the committing of a crime and the person(s) who help them do so. While some states do recognize a difference between the principals, who are actively committing the crime, and the aiders and abettors (more commonly referred to as accomplices), Nevada treats all parties involved as though they were principals. Crimes for which there are charges of aiding and abetting are usually crimes that involve a minimum of two people, who have both participated knowingly on some level at some point during the planning or committing of the crime.


What is Considered to be Aiding and Abetting a Crime?

In order to be found guilty as an accomplice to a crime in Nevada, there will need to be proof that the defendant was aware of the crime taking place and their role in that crime. However, it should also be pointed out that you can be charged as an accomplice to a crime even if your participation involved some actions that would not otherwise be considered to be a criminal offense. Some examples of participation that could be considered aiding and abetting include:

●      Serving as a lookout while someone else commits or participates in a crime.

●      Driving a vehicle to flee the scene of a crime.

●      Knowingly committing mail fraud, bank fraud, or wire fraud.

●      Falsely and knowingly serving as an alibi for someone who has committed a crime.

●      Knowingly providing someone who intends to commit a crime with the information that enables them to commit that crime.

●      Assisting in a crime of kidnapping.

It is not typically enough for someone to merely know about a crime or simply be in the vicinity of a crime that takes place to constitute a charge of aiding and abetting. Unknowing participation in a crime is also not enough to convict someone as an accomplice of that crime (per NRS 195.020).


Penalties for Aiding and Abetting Convictions in Nevada

Aiding and AbettingThe lack of a legal distinction between the principals and accomplices for a crime committed in Nevada means that anyone charged with aiding and abetting will receive the same penalty as the principal(s), who physically carried out the crime. So if someone serves as the lookout for a bank robbery, or drives the escape vehicle, and the person who physically committed the bank robbery is arrested and convicted of that crime, then the accomplice will then receive the same penalty for their involvement. Participation in a crime of kidnapping can also result in category A or B felony charges, as applicable, as defined in NRS 200.340.


Federal Charges for Aiding and Abetting

It is also important to note that federal law handles aiding and abetting with the same approach as the state of Nevada, with accomplices who are convicted being sentenced to the same penalty as the person who physically committed the crime. Federal offenses typically receive more severe penalties than convictions on a state level and it is possible for prosecutors to bring both state and federal charges against someone who has been charged as an accomplice.


Defending Charges of Aiding and Abetting

While the specific circumstances of the crime will need to be considered in cases of this nature, the most common defenses to an aiding and abetting charge include the following:

●      There is no proof of the intention of the alleged accomplice to commit the crime in question.

●      There is no proof of participation in the crime by the alleged accomplice beyond being physically present at the scene of that crime.

●      The accusation of the alleged accomplice did not occur until after the crime in question had already been committed.

●      The alleged accomplice was an associate of someone who committed the crime in question, but was completely unaware of any possible criminal activity.


It should be clear that the steep penalties for aiding and abetting a very serious crime can be ruinous for anyone who is convicted. If you or someone you care about has been charged with aiding and abetting a crime of any nature, it is important that you take the charge seriously and contact an experienced attorney immediately. There are often many ways to build an effective defense against charges of this nature and the sooner you seek trusted legal counsel, the better. If you would like to speak to us about your case, please contact us today. We offer free case evaluations and are ready to hear your story.


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