You may think that you have to commit a crime in order to face murder charges. However, you may sometimes face charges without picking up a weapon.
Florida law recognizes that people may have involvement in an offense even if they did not commit the offense themselves. According to the Florida Legislature, you may be an accessory to murder if you had knowledge of the offense either before or after it happened.
What does it mean to be an accessory?
You may be an accessory to a crime in several different ways. Courts usually consider both your knowledge and your actions. Did you know that someone had committed a murder? If you had knowledge of the offense and did not report it to members of law enforcement, officials may view you as an accessory. Once you found out that someone committed a murder, what action did you take? You may be an accessory if you intentionally provided aid to the defendant. This aid may include some of the following actions:
- Helping to conceal the offense
- Helping someone to evade arrest
- Helping someone to avoid a trial
Courts may also consider the categorization of the offense. You may be an accessory if you knew that someone committed an offense that was a third-degree felony or higher.
What is the potential penalty?
Even though you did not commit the offense yourself, you may still face a penalty. Many courts consider what type of offense the other person committed and use this as a basis to determine what penalty may be appropriate in your situation. If you helped to conceal a second-degree felony, for example, courts may charge you with a third-degree felony.
There are some situations in which the courts may not consider you to be an accessory. If you are a victim of domestic violence, for example, some courts may not charge you with this offense.