Aiding & Abetting

Tampa Aiding/Abetting Attorneys

Our Former Prosecutors Are Prepared to Protect Your Rights

Aiding and abetting occurs when a person helps another in the commission of a crime. This is defined under Florida Statutes §220.905 as the aiding, counseling, and conspiring with another person to partake in a willful or fraudulent act (§220.901) or a willful failure to pay over (§220.903). Should a person be found guilty, they will face the same penalties as the actual perpetrator of the crime in question.

If a person is accused of helping someone who committed a crime, they can face criminal charges as well. This is true even if the person did not commit the crime but played a minor role. A person who partakes in any element of a crime can be charged with aiding and abetting because the law views assistance as a “joint effort.” People who assist with a crime or who are aware but don’t report it may be labeled accomplices.

Have you been accused of aiding and abetting? Talk to an attorney about your rights by calling (813) 221-4200 for a free initial consultation. There's no obligation!

In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time?

Simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time is not a crime. Witnessing a crime and not doing anything to stop it is not itself a criminal act. Usually, you cannot be convicted if you are present at the scene of a crime or even have knowledge of a crime, but did not participate in committing the offense. 

However, there are a series of principles regarding criminal liability that can be applied to people who know about a crime without actually participating in it. For example, you can be charged with the felony crime of misprision if you have prior knowledge that a crime will be committed and don’t report that crime to authorities. You can also be charged with being an accessory after the fact if you assist a criminal after a crime has been committed, thereby hindering officers in apprehending that person. 

When Multiple Parties Are Involved in a Crime

If you’ve watched the Ocean’s Eleven movie series, you probably noticed how the heists involved multiple actors—and we’re not referring to the kind in Hollywood. In these fictitious schemes, the criminal actors each played key roles in pulling off some of the biggest heists in American cinema history. The Ocean’s movies are art, but like many 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. Still, 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 actress Anne Hathaway’s neck, it took eight women working as a team to pull it off the entire heist. 

So, this cinematic example leads us to the concept of aiders and abettors under Florida law. 

Interested in learning more? Continue reading to learn more about how aiding and abetting is prosecuted on the state level in Florida.

Why Thomas & Paulk?

Accomplices who are charged with aiding and abetting may face serious consequences in the form of jail or prison time, fines, and other penalties. As such, it is crucial to speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. We're standing by to help.

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Florida Aiding & Abetting Charges

Being an Accomplice to a Crime

Each state has established its own definitions for criminal actors: 

  • Principals
  • Accessories
  • Accomplices
  • Aiders
  • Abettors

For example, in a convenience store robbery, the principal enters the store with a handgun and holds up the cashier. After he gets the money from the cash register, he exits the store and climbs into a getaway car driven by his girlfriend, an accomplice. In Florida, she’d be called an aider and abettor. Generally, states refer to the central criminal actors as the principal. The individuals who assist principals 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.

A person could assist a principal in committing a crime by:

  • 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

Principals vs. Accomplices 

Many states do not distinguish between principals and accomplices or aiders and abettors. Florida is one of them. Under Section 777.011 of the Florida Statutes, aiders, abettors, and people who counsel or hire a principal to commit a crime all face the same punishment as the principal—the person who carried out the criminal act. 

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, she can face the same punishment as the man who pulled the trigger. 

Usually, the accomplice doesn’t need to participate in the crime to be found guilty.

Accused of Aiding & Abetting in Tampa?

Even if their role in the crime was not substantial, a person facing aiding and abetting charges needs aggressive legal representation from an experienced lawyer to help avoid further prosecution. A lawyer can get involved from the beginning and provide insight and direction as the person’s case progresses. Additionally, a lawyer can negotiate with judges and prosecutors to possibly have the charges reduced, or in some cases, dismissed entirely.

At Thomas & Paulk, you get the benefit of:

  • Representation by former prosecutors
  • Attorneys who have handled over 7,000 cases
  • A true commitment to defending your constitutional rights
  • A 20+ year history of successful case results

Are you facing criminal charges for aiding and abetting? If so, you could be facing serious penalties under Florida law. To protect your freedom and your rights, contact Thomas & Paulk.

Arrested for aiding and abetting? Call (813) 221-4200 now!