Law Office of Luke Scardigno - Queens Criminal Defense Attorney

Prosecutors can charge someone who didn't commit a crime

New York prosecutors can level charges against people deemed to be accomplices. While these individuals are distinct from the actual perpetrators, they can be found guilty because they do things that help others commit crimes. For instance, someone who loans a vehicle to a person they know is drunk with the knowledge that they're going to drive home may be found liable when that person later harms a pedestrian. Or someone might be charged with enticing a victim into a secluded area where a criminal is waiting even though they don't actually participate in a robbery.

Accomplice liability charges depend on prosecutors establishing certain facts. For instance, the person being charged as an accomplice can't be convicted if a crime wasn't actually committed. People also can't be found guilty when they weren't in the right state of mind to aid a criminal intentionally or knowingly.

One important factor is that prosecutors don't always have to prove that someone's actions directly aided a criminal. For instance, someone who provides advice on how to commit a specific crime or encourages someone to do so might be convicted for aiding and abetting them. This is different from the type of planning that leads to conspiracy charges, however, because conspirators outright agree to commit crimes, and they can be found guilty regardless whether the crimes actually occur. In some cases, people are charged with both conspiracy and accomplice liability.

When someone is charged with a crime, others can be drawn up into their case. Prosecutors and law enforcement trying to be tough on wrongdoing could accuse multiple individuals of actions they thought were harmless. Because juries may deem people guilty by association, it can help to discuss criminal defense strategies with an attorney.

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