An accessory to a felony means that you assisted in committing a crime in some way, but you were not the principal actor. For example, if you drove the getaway car for a bank robbery, you could be charged as an accessory to the crime of robbery. If you've been charged as an accessory to a felony, you may need to seek the help of a criminal defense lawyer. Here are defenses a criminal defense attorney can use against an accessory to a felony charge:
1. Lack of Knowledge
To be found guilty of being an accessory to a felony, the prosecution must prove that you had knowledge of the crime being committed and that you assisted in some way. You may have a defense if you didn't know about the crime or were unaware that you were assisting in its commission.
For example, if you unknowingly drove someone to a location where they committed a crime, you may be able to argue that you had no knowledge of the crime and therefore cannot be held liable as an accessory.
2. Coercion or Duress
If you were threatened or forced to participate in the crime, you may be able to use coercion or duress as a defense. This means that you only participated in the crime because you were afraid for your safety or the safety of others.
For example, if a group of people threatened to harm you or your family if you didn't assist them in a robbery, you may be able to use coercion as a defense.
If you initially participated in the crime but then withdrew from the conspiracy before the crime was committed, you may be able to use withdrawal as a defense. Your criminal defense attorney will show you took affirmative steps to prevent the crime from being committed, such as informing law enforcement.
For example, if you agreed to be a lookout for a robbery but then called the police before the crime was committed, you may be able to use withdrawal as a defense.
4. A Mistake of Fact
If you made a mistake about the facts surrounding the crime, you can use the mistake as a defense. For example, if you thought you were assisting in a legal activity but later found out it was illegal, you may be able to use this defense.
For instance, if you were asked to hold onto a bag for a friend and later discovered it contained illegal guns, you may be able to argue that you made a factual mistake as to the contents of the bag.
An accessory to a felony charge puts you at grave risk of jail time. You need good legal counsel to help you build a strong defense and protect your rights. Don't try to navigate the legal system on your own. Consult a criminal defense lawyer ASAP if you are facing this charge.