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ACCESSORY

accessory (ak-ses-<<schwa>>-ree), n.1. Something  of secondary or subordinate importance.

2.Criminal law. A person who aids or contributes in the commission or concealment of a crime. •

An accessory is usu. liable only if the crime is a felony. Cf. PRINCIPAL(2). [Cases: Criminal Law

68–77; Homicide    573. C.J.S. Criminal Law §§ 137–142.] — accessory,adj. — accessoryship,n.

“In most jurisdictions, the common-law distinctions between principals and accessories have

largely been ab-olished, although the pertinent statutes vary in form and substance. Conceptually,

the common-law pattern remains the same: The  person  who aids, abets, commands, counsels, or

otherwise encourages another to commit a crime is still regarded as a party to the underlying crime

as  at  common  law,  even  though  the  labels  principal  in  the  first  degree,  principal  in  the  second

degree,  and  accessory  before  the  fact  are  no  longer  used,  and  even  though  it  usually  does  not

matter whether the aider and abettor is or is not present at the scene of the crime.” 1 Charles E.

Torcia, Wharton’s Criminal Law § 35, at 202–03 (15th ed. 1993).

accessory after the fact.An accessory who was not at the scene of the crime but knows that a

crime  has  been  committed  and  who  helps  the  offender  try  to  escape  arrest  or  punishment.  18

USCA § 3. • Most penal statutes establish the following four requirements: (1) someone else must A

have  committed  a  felony,  and  it  must  have  been  completed  before  the  accessory’s  act;  (2)  the

accessory must not be guilty as a principal; (3) the accessory must personally help the principal try

to avoid the consequences of the felony; and (4) the accessory’s assistance must be rendered with

guilty  knowledge.  An  accessory  after  the  fact  may  be  prosecuted  for  obstructing  justice.  —

Sometimes shortened to accessory after. [Cases: Criminal Law    74, 82. C.J.S. Criminal  Law §§

140, 146–147.]

“At  common  law,  an  accessory  after  the  fact  is  one  who,  knowing  that  a  felony  has  been

committed by another, receives, relieves, comforts, or assists the felon, or in any manner aids him

to escape arrest or punishment. To be guilty as an accessory after the fact one must have known

that a completed felony was committed, and that the person aided was the guilty party. The mere

presence of the defendant at the scene of the crime will not preclude a conviction as an accessory

after  the  fact,  where  the  evidence  shows  the  defendant  became  involved  in  the  crime  after  its

commission.” 21 Am. Jur. 2d Criminal Law § 209, at 275–76 (1998).

accessory at the fact.See principal in the second degree under PRINCIPAL (2).

“A principal in the second degree is one by whom the actual perpetrator of the felony is aided

and  abetted  at  the  very  time  when  it  is  committed;  for  instance,  a  car-owner  sitting  beside  the

chauffeur  who  kills  someone  by  over-fast  driving,  or  a  passenger  on  a  clandestine  joy-riding

expedition  which  results  in  manslaughter;  or  a  bi-gamist’s  second  ‘wife,’  if  she  knows  he  is

committing bigamy. (In early law he was not ranked as a principal at all, but only as a third kind of

accessory — the accessory at the fact.)” J.W. Cecil Turner, Kenny’s Outlines of Criminal Law 86

(16th ed. 1952).

accessory before the fact.An accessory who assists or encourages another to commit a crime

but who is not present when the offense is actually committed. • Most jurisdictions have abolished

this  category  of  accessory  and  instead  treat  such  an  offender  as  an  accomplice.  —  Sometimes

shortened  to  accessory  before.  See  ACCOMPLICE.  [Cases:  Criminal  Law    68,  81.  C.J.S.

Criminal Law §§ 137, 146–147.]

“An  accessory  before  the  fact  is  a  person  who  procures  or  advises  one  or  more  of  the

principals to commit the felony.  This definition requires  from  him an instigation so active that a

person  who  is  merely  shown  to  have  acted  as  the  stake-holder  for  a  prize-fight,  which  ended

fatally,  would not be  punishable as an accessory. The fact that a crime  has been  committed in a

manner  different  from  the  mode  which  the  accessory  had  advised  will  not  excuse  him  from

liability for it. Accordingly if A hires B to poison C, but B instead kills C by shooting him, A is

none the less liable as accessory before the  fact to C’s murder. But a  man  who  has counselled a

crime  does  not  become  liable  as  accessory  if,  instead  of  any  form  of  the  crime  suggested,  an

entirely different offence is committed.” J.W. Cecil Turner, Kenny’s Outlines of Criminal Law 88

(16th ed. 1952). [Blacks Law 8th]