You’ve never actually broken the law yourself, at least to the best of your knowledge. You certainly know people who have, but you have decided not to take that risk for yourself.
All the same, when someone that you know gets arrested, the police show up at your door. They tell you that you’re also being arrested for aiding and abetting this other individual. What does this mean and why are you facing criminal charges if you are not the one who committed the crime?
Assisting with criminal activity
If you’re being charged with aiding and abetting, the police may believe that you were an accessory to the crime. This means you assisted the person in some way, even though they were the one committing the act to begin with.
In many cases, this happens after the fact. Say that you knew someone who committed a crime, and there was evidence in their car. They asked you to clean their car out because they didn’t want to be caught. If you cleaned their car, you may not consider this to be a criminal act, but you could be guilty of hiding evidence and assisting that person with avoiding the authorities.
In other cases, it happens before the commission of the crime. The individual may ask you for advice, they may ask for some type of financial support or they may ask you to take certain actions on their behalf. They are certainly not asking you to commit the eventual crime, but you’re putting them in a position to do it.
It is even possible for someone who is aiding and abetting to be charged with conspiracy when it happens before the commission of a crime. A conspiracy is when multiple people work together to plan a crime and then take at least a single action toward the commission of that crime. You may not have been there at the time that it happened, but you may be guilty of a conspiracy if you helped put the plan in motion.
What are your defense options?
This gives you some idea of why the police would make these allegations, but that certainly doesn’t mean that they are correct. You may have done nothing wrong at all. Make sure you are well aware of the legal defense options at your disposal.