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 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 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) 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.