Derivative Crime Lawyers

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What are Derivative Crime Lawyers?

You can be arrested and convicted in relation to a crime that you did not actually commit.  If you help someone else commit a crime, if you conspire to commit a crime, or if you help a criminal avoid arrest you may be found guilty of a derivative crime.

Accessory (aiding and abetting) and conspiracy are both derivative crimes that do not require that the defendant actually commit the unlawful act.  Accessory punishes those who help criminals commit crimes, while conspiracy punishes those who plan to commit crimes.

Accessory (Aiding and Abetting)
Anyone who knowingly helps another commit a crime may be convicted for being an accessory to the crime.  In a bank robbery, an accessory may drive the get-away car, may provide the money to buy the hold-up weapon, or could give the principal perpetrator crucial information about the floor plan or security at the bank.  Any contribution to the crime may be grounds for accessory. 

Accessory "after the fact" such as sheltering a known criminal from police, may also be considered accessory, although it may not be punished as harshly as acts that contribute to the performance of the crime. 

Sentences for accessory can be heavy because those charged with accessory may be considered to be as guilty of the crime that they helped to commit as the person that actually committed it.  A good defense lawyer will shield the defendant from heavy punishment by minimizing the role that the defendant played in the commission of the crime.

Conspiracy
The when two or more people plan to commit an unlawful act, they may be charged with conspiracy.  The planed crime does not actually need to be committed because it is the planning of the crime that is against the law.  The government must show that that the defendants would have committed the crime had they not been stopped by the police.  Many states will require the prosecution to show an "overt " toward the completion of the crime, such as the lighting of a match in a conspiracy toward arson.  Where the planned crime is actually committed, a defendant may be charged with both conspiracy to commit a crime, and with the crime itself.

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Last Modified: 04-30-2012 12:25 PM PDT

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