Common Examples of Aiding and Abetting a Crime
When criminal violations occur, multiple people may be involved in the act. Some offenders might seem less guilty based on a lesser degree of involvement or intention to complete the criminal act. Alternatively, the mastermind of the criminal scheme might stay behind the scenes during the act. Still, they could receive the most severe charges based on their involvement in the planning and execution of the crime. New Mexico categorizes the primary offender who commits or intends to commit a criminal violation as the principal. Parties who assist in the commission of the crime are referred to as accessories or accomplices.
Our attorneys at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices understand that the criminal liability of parties involved in a crime can cause lots of confusion. If you were charged with aiding and abetting a crime, contact our office right away to discuss what such a charge may mean for you.
What Is Aiding and Abetting a Crime?
New Mexico authorizes charging a person who “aids and abets” the commission of a crime with a violation of the criminal law itself. This means that if you are an accomplice, you can face the same charges and penalties as the person who actually committed the crime. New Mexico allows such charges against an accessory who procures, counsels, aids, or abets in the commission of a crime, even if the accessory does not directly commit the crime. Thus, an offender who acted as a lookout could face the exact same charges and penalties as the person who robbed a bank or murdered someone.
Elements of Aiding and Abetting in New Mexico
The prosecution must satisfy certain elements to justify charging someone with aiding and abetting a crime. First, the accessory must share the criminal intent of the principal. Additionally, the prosecutor must show a community of purpose and partnership between the accessory and the principal in the commission of the crime. Typically that includes some communication between the parties that shows a shared objective. Mere presence at the location where the crime was committed is not sufficient to warrant charges as an accessory. Some outward manifestation or expression of approval by the accessory is required.
The prosecution can demonstrate aiding and abetting by showing that the accessory incited, encouraged, or instigated the commission of the crime by the principal.
Penalties for Aiding and Abetting
If the prosecution believes you aided and abetted the commission of a crime, you will not face charges for aiding and abetting specifically. New Mexico does not recognize the charge of aiding and abetting alone. Instead, you will face charges for the underlying crime that was committed. Thus, if you assisted in the commission of a robbery, you will likely face robbery charges, even if you played a relatively minor role in committing the crime itself.
New Mexico does not require a principal’s conviction for the underlying crime to charge an accessory. That means the principal could provide incriminating information to authorities and secure a plea to a lesser charge. Then, the accessories to the crime can still face charges for the robbery itself.
In New Mexico, robbery is classified as a third-degree felony or a second-degree felony if a deadly weapon is used. A third-degree felony carries the possibility of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. A second-degree felony carries the possibility of up to nine years in prison. Additionally, the court can impose a fine of up to $10,000.
Examples of Aiding and Abetting a Crime
Remember, you do not have to commit the crime itself to qualify as an accessory to the crime. If you incited, encouraged, or instigated its commission, you could face charges for aiding and abetting a crime. Common examples of aiding and abetting a crime include:
- Driving a getaway car;
- Serving as a lookout;
- Providing a weapon to be used during the commission of the crime;
- Giving a false alibi for someone you know has committed a criminal violation;
- Luring a victim to a physical or sexual assault;
- Receiving stolen property that you know is stolen;
- Encouraging someone to commit a crime; and
- Helping conceal the commission of a crime.
Any of these actions can result in charges for the underlying crime. However, if you lacked any knowledge or awareness that the principal was committing a crime, you could argue that you do not qualify as an accessory. Let’s take a look at two specific examples.
In June 2015, Denise Myrick, a Colorado resident, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting a bank robbery by driving the principal to the bank and attempting to assist with his escape. The federal court sentenced Myrick to three years of probation.
In September 2017, Christian Herrera from Albuquerque, New Mexico, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting an armed bank robbery by serving as a lookout. A federal court sentenced Herrera to 37 months in prison in addition to four years of supervised release.
Charged with Aiding and Abetting a Crime? Contact New Mexico Criminal Law Offices Today
If you are facing allegations of aiding and abetting a crime, you could risk spending a significant amount of time behind bars, depending on the underlying crime. Even if you feel like your assistance in the crime was minimal, you might qualify as an accessory to the crime under New Mexico law. This probably seems unfair. Unfortunately, criminal defendants are sometimes shocked to find themselves facing serious charges based on their relatively minor role in a crime.
You need an aggressive, experienced criminal charges defense lawyer to defend you against allegations of aiding and abetting a crime. Our team of attorneys has over 30 years of combined experience representing individuals facing criminal charges. We will spend time with you to listen to your case, conduct a thorough investigation, and present you with the best legal defenses that apply to your situation. Our lawyers have the knowledge and experience needed to represent you against any criminal charge. Contact our office today so we can start on your case.