Aiding & Abetting

What is Aiding & Abetting?

Aiding & Abetting is in the same family as Conspiracy. Think of this as being charged for helping someone else commit a crime, even just a little bit. They may not have had the original idea to do the crime, but at some point found out about it, and helped it get accomplished. In order to convict someone for aiding and abetting the commission of a crime, the Government must prove that the defendant, before or at the time the crime was committed

  • 1.
    Knew that the crime was being committed or going to be committed;
  • 2.
    Had enough advance knowledge to the extent and character of the crime that they were able to make the relevant choice to walk away from the crime before all of the elements of it were complete; and
  • 3.
    Knowingly acted in some way for the purpose of causing, encouraging, helping, or aiding the commission of the crime.

Furthermore, the Government also has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that all of the elements of the crime were committed by other person or people, and that the defendant affirmatively aided and abetted the commission of that crime. Just merely being associated with people committing crimes or being present at a scene where a crime was committed doesn’t count.

An example of when it did work out for the defendant in State Court:

crime scene do not cross

Where it didn’t work out so well for the defendant in Federal Court:

drugs in glove box

A woman named Helen went on trial for aiding and abetting first degree murder. She had moved in with her son David, and his wife Carol, and their children. But it was not going well. Carol and David’s marriage was failing and the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law did not like or trust each other. It was a toxic situation. David told Helen, along with his friends, that he would kill Carol and make it look like an accident. Eventually he choked Carol to death and later admitted it. The state charged Helen with helping with the murder because David told investigators that he told Helen that day that he was going to kill Carol and when he finally did it, Helen was home when he got rid of the body. Ultimately on appeal, the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the conviction, finding that her actions did not constitute conduct that encouraged another to act; while she disliked Carol, she did not advise David to murder her; and her presence in the house wasn’t enough to satisfy the elements of aiding and abetting. That is the case of State v. Ulvinen 313 N.W.2d 425 (Minn. 1981).

Two men were pulled over in a car for a traffic offense. A trooper ended up searching the car and finding a large bag of methamphetamines. The driver swore up and down that he had no knowledge of the drugs in the car, but was charged with aiding and abetting drug distribution and ultimately convicted. The court found that because the driver knew that the passenger was a drug dealer, the purpose of the trip was to collect drug money, and that he had a small amount of meth in his sock, he was guilty of aiding and abetting drug distribution. That is the case of United States v. Santana, 524 F.3d 851 (8th Cir. 2008).

Catherine is an experienced criminal defense lawyer that defends against charges involving Aiding & Abetting. If you or a loved one have been accused of Aiding and Abetting, she can help. Call today for a free consultation.