What Does it Mean to Be an Accomplice or an Accessory to Murder?


Murder is a serious crime—and you don't even have to be directly involved to be considered guilty of the crime. Before you get involved with someone else's wrongdoing, you need to understand exactly what you could be getting yourself into.

What makes you an accomplice to murder?

Essentially, an accomplice is someone who knowingly and willingly participates in an actual crime along with one or more other people—even though he or she is not the principal actor. In murder cases, accomplices are generally considered just as guilty as the actual murderer. If convicted, they will also usually be sentenced as if they were the murderer.

For example, in a murder, an accomplice would likely be present at the time the murder was committed and likely played some role in the process. For example, an accomplice might lure a victim into a dark alley with the promise of a drug deal, knowing full well that the victim was going to be attacked by the people waiting to rob him. If the victim dies, the accomplice who lured him into the alley is just as guilty of causing the death as the people who administered the beating.

What makes you an accessory to murder?

Accessories to murder are generally considered less culpable than accomplices. In most cases, an accessory wouldn't have been present when the murder occurred. There are two different types of accessory charges. An accessory before the fact is someone who aids the murderer in the commission of the crime before it actually happens. For example, loaning someone a gun when you know that they might actually shoot another person with it could easily get you charged as an accessory before the fact.

An accessory after the fact is someone who tries to help another person get away with their crime. This charge is particularly confusing to a lot of people who don't realize just how serious their actions are when they:

  • Hide or destroy evidence that could help police catch a murderer 
  • Interfere with a police investigation by lying about what they know about a murder
  • Dispose of the murder weapon, such as throwing the gun, pipe or knife into a lake
  • Drive a getaway car after someone has shot a store clerk or something similar
  • Give someone on the run for murder food, clothing, shelter, money or transportation

What happens if you're charged as an accomplice or accessory to murder?

Exactly how you are charged may depend on what the police think you knew before the murder happened and the extent of your involvement. Sometimes prosecutors will intentionally level a serious charge to frighten or pressure a defendant into giving up more information. This is most certainly not a time to try to negotiate on your own. A violent crime defense attorney often has the experience you need when you're facing charges as an accomplice or accessory to murder. Your attorney can help you mount your defense, negotiate for lesser charges and work out a plea deal, depending on what is in your best interests.


8 November 2019

kids being charge with crimes they didn't commit

My son and a group of his friends got in some trouble for trespassing and were arrested. Every one of the boys that were there were charged with trespassing, criminal mischief and vandalism. I contacted all of the other boys' parents and we got together to discuss the situation. After hearing the boys' stories about what happened that day, we knew that we had to hire an attorney to get the boys out of some of the trouble they were in. I have been working on my blog to help other parents that are struggling with the legal system prosecuting their kids for things that they may not have done.