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Is an accessory to murder similar to an accomplice?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Legal jargon can get quite confusing. For instance, an accessory to a crime and an accomplice may seem similar, but the two are like day and night, at least from a legal point of view.

The definitions and potential sentences are significantly different. Perhaps the only similarity between the two offenses is that they both are grave offenses, and you risk facing severe legal penalties if convicted. Here is what you need to know.

The differences explained

An accessory is someone who assists in a crime but does not directly take part in it. You may be charged with being an accessory to a crime if you learn that someone has broken the law and help them escape law enforcement or punishment for their actions. An accessory to a crime is typically not present at the scene when the crime occurred.

On the other hand, an accomplice is a person who voluntarily, intentionally or knowingly assists another in the commission of a crime. In most cases, an accomplice is charged to the same extent as the person who committed the crime.

In Maryland, being convicted of an accessory to murder will result in a lighter sentence than an accomplice. Still, you will likely spend years in prison if convicted. A person found guilty of being an accessory to murder may get up to 10 years in prison, while an accomplice may get life without parole, depending on the degree of the offense.

Get adequate legal representation

As mentioned, any offense involving murder is a serious offense, and you stand to lose a lot if convicted. Therefore, it is best to have appropriate legal counsel to help strategize your defense and help increase the chances of a desirable outcome to your charges.