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accomplice crimes

A criminal accomplice is a person who knowingly, voluntarily, or intentionally assists another person in the commission of a crime—or under some circumstances, a person who fails to prevent another person from committing a crime. Unlike a person who aids and abets a crime by helping with the planning of the crime but is often not present at the scene of the crime—and unlike an accessory after the fact, who is not present at the scene of the crime but assists after the commission of the crime to help the perpetrator avoid arrest or punishment—an accomplice actively participates in the commission of the crime. For example, a person who acts as a lookout or getaway driver for a bank robbery is an accomplice.

In many states the traditional distinctions between the culpability of accomplices and principals to a crime have been replaced by statute—including the felony murder rule that may make an accomplice guilty of first degree or capital murder if he was the lookout or getaway driver for a bank robbery that resulted in a death.

In Texas, an individual who assists in the commission of a crime is considered an accomplice and can be charged with the same offense as the principal offender. Texas law does not strictly differentiate between principals and accomplices; both can be held equally liable for the crime committed. This means that if a person acts as a lookout or a getaway driver during a bank robbery, they can be charged with robbery as well. Furthermore, under the Texas felony murder rule, if a death occurs during the commission of a felony such as a robbery, an accomplice can be charged with murder, even if they did not directly cause the death. This is because their participation in the felony contributed to the circumstances that led to the killing. The law in Texas holds that anyone who aids, abets, solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid another person in planning or committing the offense can be held criminally responsible to the same extent as the person who directly commits the act.


Texas Statutes & Rules

Federal Statutes & Rules

18 U.S.C. § 2 - Principals
This statute is relevant because it defines the liability of an accomplice in the commission of a federal crime, equating the accomplice's responsibility to that of the principal offender.

Under 18 U.S.C. § 2, an individual who aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces, or procures the commission of an offense against the United States is punishable as a principal. This means that an accomplice who assists in the commission of a crime can face the same penalties as the person who directly commits the crime. Additionally, anyone who willfully causes an act to be done, which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense against the United States, is also punishable as a principal. This statute essentially eliminates the distinction between different types of accomplices and principals, holding all parties involved in the commission of a federal crime equally responsible.

18 U.S.C. § 3 - Accessory after the fact
This statute is relevant to distinguish the legal treatment of an accomplice from that of an accessory after the fact.

18 U.S.C. § 3 defines the punishment for an accessory after the fact to any federal crime. An accessory after the fact is someone who, knowing that an offense against the United States has been committed, receives, relieves, comforts, or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent the offender's apprehension, trial, or punishment. The statute provides that an accessory after the fact shall be imprisoned not more than half the maximum term of imprisonment or fined not more than half the maximum fine prescribed for the punishment of the principal, or both; or if the offense is a capital one, or which carries a potential life sentence, the accessory shall be imprisoned not more than 15 years.

18 U.S.C. § 1111 - Murder
This statute is relevant as it includes the federal definition of murder and the circumstances under which an accomplice could be charged with murder, including felony murder.

18 U.S.C. § 1111 defines murder as the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. It distinguishes between first-degree murder, which includes any willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated killing; killing committed during the commission of certain felonies; or any action intended to cause death or serious bodily harm that results in death. Second-degree murder is defined as any other kind of murder. An accomplice to a felony that results in a killing could be charged with first-degree murder under the felony murder rule, even if the accomplice did not directly commit the act of killing.

18 U.S.C. § 924(c) - Use of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime
This statute is relevant because it prescribes additional penalties for the use of a firearm during the commission of a federal crime, which can apply to accomplices as well.

18 U.S.C. § 924(c) imposes additional penalties on any person who uses or carries a firearm during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses a firearm. The statute mandates a consecutive sentence to the punishment provided for the crime of violence or drug trafficking. This means that an accomplice who carries or uses a firearm during the commission of a federal crime, or possesses a firearm in furtherance of such a crime, can face additional consecutive penalties on top of the penalties for the underlying offense.