08 Jul [Legal Dictionary] Definition of Accessory
An accessory to a crime is a person that helps someone else commit a crime. For example, if you drive a vehicle that takes your friend to and from a robbery, you could be an accessory to the crime.
In criminal law, being an accessory means that you were still a participant in the crime – even if you did not directly participate in the commission of the crime.
In order to be considered an accessory to the crime, you must knowingly promote or contribute to the crime.
That means if you had no idea you were helping someone commit a crime, and the prosecution cannot prove that you knew what was happening, you can’t be convicted.
There are two types of accessory: an accessory before the fact and an accessory after the fact.
Accessory Before the Fact
An accessory before the fact is usually considered a party to the crime or an accomplice. This person knows about the crime before it happens, and may have even ordered another person to commit the crime.
Accessory After the Fact
An accessory after the fact is someone who knows a crime has been committed but helps to hide it from authorities. Most often, this is something that involves obstructing justice or harboring a fugitive.