Accessory After the Fact

Acting as an accessory after the fact is a crime prohibited by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 274 Section 4. A prosecutor must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt before a defendant can be convicted of this offense:

  1. The defendant aided a principal felon or accessory to a crime after the commission of a felony. This aid includes harboring, concealing, maintaining or assisting the offender;
  2. The defendant knew that the person he aided had committed or been an accessory to the commission of a felony. This means that the prosecutor must prove knowledge of the identity of the offender and knowledge of the occurrence of a particular felony. Knowledge may be inferred from the facts and circumstances; and
  3. The defendant aided the offender with the intent that the offender avoid or escape detention, punishment, arrest or trial. There would be no such intent, for example, if the offender forced (at gun point, at knife point, through physical violence, etc,) the defendant to assist him.

This law duly recognizes that the family serves a unique role in society. For that reason, the fact that the defendant is the offender’s husband, wife, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister is a defense to this crime. The protected family relationship may be by blood, affinity or adoption, but the law provides no defense for a person who simply cohabits with the offender. A defendant may testify only to the existence of such a relationship without subjecting himself to cross examination on other matters or to impeachment by evidence of prior criminal convictions (except perjury or subordination of perjury).

Is Being an Accessory After the Fact a Lesser Included Offense to the Underlying Crime?

The answer to that question, at least in Massachusetts seems to be no. In Commonwealth v. Talbot, 35 Mass.App.Ct. 766 (1994) the Massachusetts Appeals Court made clear that being an accessory after the fact to murder was not a lesser included of the crime of murder. It would probably follow that this is the case no matter what the crime charged. Nevertheless, your lawyer should make this argument and ask for a jury instruction stating that being an accessory after the fact is a lesser included. If the facts of your case call for it then it should be argued.

Will I Go To Jail If I Am Convicted Of Being An Accessory After The Fact?

The short answer is this depends on what crime you were being an accessory to and under what circumstances. The more serious the crime the more likely a conviction will result in a jail or state prison sentence. Of course, much of this depends on what pressures you were under when committing the act. If you are convicted of this crime, you face imprisonment in the state prison for up to seven years or in jail for up to two and on-half years or a fine of up to $1,000.

If you have been charged with this crime, it is important that you retain a dedicated and experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Stephen Neyman is committed to providing winning defenses for all criminal charges. His twenty- years’ experience serves as a guarantee that you will receive the top-notch service and expertise that you need. If you have been charged with being an accessory after the fact, call the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, P.C. at 617-263-6800 or contact us online today for your initial consultation.

Si usted habla español contacta a nuestro asistente de abogado Maria Rivera en 617-877-6270.

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