What Will Happen to Me if I Aided or Assisted a Fugitive?
It is against the law in Texas to directly or indirectly participate in the commission of a crime. This may sound fairly straightforward to most people but it can have far-reaching implications. For example, many people may realize that acting as a getaway driver for a person who has committed a bank robbery is an illegal action. Some people may not realize, however, that a person can illegally aid or assist a fugitive even if they are not present at the scene of the crime.
The charge of aiding and abetting a fugitive can be applied in many different scenarios. Understanding more about these different scenarios can help people prepare a legal defense when facing an aiding or abetting charge.
What Is Aiding and Abetting?
A person who participates in a criminal activity in some way and works to make it successful may be charged with aiding/abetting or assisting a fugitive. Activities that may full under this charge can include:
- Loaning a person a vehicle so that they can commit a robbery
- Making a straw firearm purchase for a person who commits a crime
- Allowing an escaped fugitive to hide on a person’s property
- Failing to report the commission of a crime
- Failing to report a crime under mandatory reporter status
Depending on the nature of the crime, aiding or assisting a fugitive can lead to state and federal criminal charges. In many cases, the person who assisted the criminal can end up facing the same charges as the person who actually carried out the crime.
Punishments for Aiding or Assisting a Fugitive
Section 7.01 of the Texas Penal Code indicates that it is possible for one person to be held legally responsible for the criminal actions of another person if the first person helped them commit a crime. In fact, a person who assists another person in the effort to commit a crime may be held liable for actions that he or she didn’t know about. This section of the penal code can apply to crimes like:
- Accessory after the fact
- Aiding and abetting a fugitive
- Failure to report
- Harboring a fugitive
For example, suppose that Sally is Jim’s boyfriend. Jim tells Sally that he is going to rob a convenience store. Sally purchases a gun for Jim, lets him use her car to drive to the convenience store and then gives him money and shelter while he is hiding from the police.
During the robbery, Jim shoots the convenience store manager. Even though Sally did not tell him to fire the shot and she did not know he was going to do it, both Sally and Jim may face attempted murder charges. Sally could be charged with being an accessory to the crime for providing Jim with the gun that he used during the crime.
An attorney may be able to use facts about an aiding and abetting case to provide a legal defense for the defendant. For example, if a person was coerced, threatened or forced into providing assistance for a fugitive, they may be able to use that fact in their defense.
Similarly, the fact that a person had no knowledge that they were assisting a fugitive might be a valuable part of a legal defense strategy. For example, if Sally regularly lets Jim borrow her car and then one day, Jim decides to use the car to commit a crime without telling Sally, an attorney may be able to argue that Sally had no way of knowing about the event.
If a strategy like this is successful, a defendant may be able to plead guilty to a lesser offense or have their charges dropped entirely.
Have you been accused of aiding and abetting? Contact the law office of Rand Mintzer today. We will fight hard to protect your rights and future. Call (713) 862-8880 or email for a free, confidential consultation.
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