Crime of Aiding & Abetting in Florida

If you’ve watched the Ocean's Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, and Eight movies, you probably noticed how the heists involved multiple actors as the film titles suggest and we’re not referring to the kind born and bred in Hollywood. In these fictitious, sophisticated schemes, the criminal actors each played key roles to pull off some of the biggest heists in the history of American cinema. 

The Ocean’s movies are art, but like a lot of crime movies, they closely mirror real life crimes, which brings us to the subject of aiders and abettors in Florida. Who are they? What role do they play in crimes? And, how are they punished under Florida law? We’ll get that to a minute, but first a little more on the latest of the Ocean’s movies.

In 2018’s Ocean’s Eight for example, one of the all-women team members was a fashion designer, one pretended to have a catering company, one was an actress, one was a hacker, and one even pretended to be an attendant in a women’s restroom, but they all played a role in a sophisticated jewelry heist at an annual Met Gala in New York City.

While it only took one woman to steal the $150 million Cartier necklace off Ann Hathaway’s neck, it took eight women to pull it off. So, this cinematic example leads us to the concept of aiders and abettors under Florida law. Read on to learn more about how they’re prosecuted on the state level.

Being an Accomplice to a Crime

Each state has established its own definitions for criminal actors – principals, accessories, accomplices, aiders, and abettors. For example, in a convenient store robbery, the principle enters the store with a handgun and holds up the cashier. After he gets the money from the cash register and safe, he exits the store and climbs into a getaway car, which is driven by his girlfriend, who is his accomplice. Or in Florida, she’d be call an aider and abettor.

Generally, states refer to the main criminal actors as the “principle,” and the individuals who assist principles are their “accomplices.” While the definitions vary from state to state, accomplices (or aiders and abettors) are people who participate in a crime. They know about it and they intentionally do something to help someone else commit the crime.

Some ways someone can assist a principle in the commission of a crime:

  • Driving the getaway car,
  • Acting as a lookout,
  • Providing tools to commit a crime,
  • Providing firearms for an assault or homicide,
  • Providing information to commit a burglary,
  • Providing keys or a security code for a robbery,
  • Helping someone gain access to secure information; for example, in a computer program or file cabinet,
  • And much more.

There are countless ways that someone can be an accomplice to a crime. Usually, it’s not necessary for the accomplice to participate in the commission of the crime itself for them to be found guilty of aiding and abetting the principle.

Many states do not distinguish between principles and accomplices or aiders and abettors and Florida is one of them. Under Section 777.011 of the Florida Statutes, Principal of the first degree, aiders, abettors, and people who counsel or hire a principle to commit a crime face the same punishment as the principle.

Aiders and abettors in Florida will be charged as if they committed the crime themselves. For example, if a woman hired a hitman to murder her husband, which is charged as murder in the first-degree, a capital felony, she can face the same punishment as the triggerman, even though she was not actually present during the murder.

Are you facing criminal charges for aiding and abetting under Sec. 777.011? If so, you could be facing serious penalties under Florida law. To protect your freedom and your rights, contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A.for a free consultation with a former prosecutor.