Accomplice liability is a form of liability for individuals who were of some assistance in a criminal act that is based on the idea of agency law. In law, an accomplice is an individual who actively participates in the commission of a crime without necessarily taking part in the actual criminal offense.
In a bank robbery, the person that points the gun at the teller and demands money has committed armed robbery. Anyone who assisted the man with the gun can be considered an accomplice. So the person driving the getaway car, the guy holding the door open, and the person that provides the safe house after the crime is committed can all be seen as accomplices. These people all helped or encouraged the bank robber and so are guilty as accomplices even though they didn’t technically commit the underlying crime.
Because of the work of multiple people to commit a crime, accomplice liability is commonly confused with conspiracy. The two crimes differ in that in conspiracy, there is an agreement to commit a crime. Accomplice liability does not have an agreement, it sort of just happens. Once an agreement is made, it is likely that a person would be charged with conspiracy rather than being an accomplice.
Legally, an accomplice has the same degree of guilt as the person who received his or her assistance. The accomplice, in normal circumstances, cannot be charged with a crime that is higher or harsher than that of the person actually committing the crime.
Contact a Milwaukee Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of a crime or as being an accomplice to a crime, contact the Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys of Hart Powell, S.C. at (414) 271-9595 to discuss your case and to form a plan for defense.
Written by Michael Hart & Craig PowellLast Updated : January 13, 2016