Legal Terms


An accomplice is someone who aids and/or abets a crime committed by someone else (the principal). Most criminal defense lawyers will tell you that accomplices are just as liable – under the law – as the principal. They will also tell you, however, that accomplices often receive better plea offers from the prosecutor and – if it is within the judge’s discretion – better sentences after trial.

In fact, accomplice liability is far more complicated. For example, while an accomplice may be guilty of the same crime as the principal, he or she may not be liable for “sentence enhancers” which can impact the sentence for crimes ranging from burglary to drug delivery.  Furthermore, there are even exceptions to the general rule that accomplices are guilty of the same crime as the principal, such as “assault while aided by another person actually present,” which may be a felony for the principal but only a misdemeanor for the accomplice.   If you are suspected of being an accomplice, an experienced criminal defense lawyer should be able to explain the current law surrounding accomplice liability that might apply in your case.