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What Is an Accessory After the Fact?

In accordance to U.S.C. 18, whoever, knowing that an offense has been committed, receives, relieves, comforts or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension, trial or punishment, is an accessory after the fact. This refers to a person who has knowledge of a felony committed by another and then receives, relieves, comforts, or assists the felon in order to hinder the felon's apprehension, trial, or punishment.

Accessory after the fact is the legal term used to charge people who knowingly helped a person who has committed a crime. To be more precise, an accessory could be a person who assists in the compliance of the crime or after the crime has been committed. This individual may not be involved in the actual commission of an offense but knows that the felony has been committed and still conceals or harbors the culprit, or aids in his or her escape from arrest or punishment.

When charged with accessory after the fact, this may mean facing charges similar to the crime that was committed by the felon. However, to be found guilty as an accessory after the fact, the criminal, whom the accessory assisted, must be already convicted for the said felony. A person cannot be accountable as an accessory after the fact to a misdemeanor offense
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Helping a murderer after he has committed a crime could make someone an accessory to murder, even if that person had nothing to do with the crime itself. This is a good example of being an accessory after the fact.

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