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Accessory Before the Fact

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 274 Section 3 defines an accessory before the fact as a person who aids in committing a felony by hiring, counseling, or otherwise procuring the commission of the felony. A person is rendered an accessory when he or she is present where the crime is committed, knows about and approves of the crime’s commission, and is able to help the principal. Recent case law has added that in order to convict as an accessory before the fact the district attorney must show that the defendant committed some sort of act that contributed to the occurrence of the crime. Being an accessory necessarily established joint venture liability. If a person is present and actually assists in the commission of the felony, then he or she is a principal and not an accessory. A person is a principal in the second degree where he or she is present at the place of the crime’s commission and is aiding and abetting but does not commit the crime.

It’s important to note that it is only a separate crime to be an accessory before the fact to a felony. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 274 Section 1 defines a felony as a crime punishable by imprisonment in the state prison or by death. Felonies are those crimes that may be punished by more than 2.5 years, and every other crime is a misdemeanor.

Punishment in Massachusetts for Being an Accessory Before the Fact

The punishment for being an accessory before the fact is the same as that for being a principal. An accessory before the fact can be tried with the principal, after conviction of the principal, or before the principal. If the accessory is tried before the principal, he must be indicted and convicted of the underlying felony. An accessory can still be prosecuted if the principal is acquitted. If convicted of being an accessory before the fact, an individual will also be guilty of conspiracy because there is always a combination between an accessory before the fact and a principal. Understanding the legal distinctions between being an accessory before the fact, a principal and being a joint venture is necessary an cases where more than one person is accused of committing a crime. You need a lawyer who knows those distinctions and can convey them to the judge or the jury. This can mean the difference between winning a case and going to jail. Be smart. Research your decision before hiring a criminal defense lawyer.

Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer: 617-263-6800

If you have been charged with being an accessory before the fact, Attorney Stephen Neyman can put his expertise to work for you. Attorney Neyman, a leading Boston criminal defense attorney, has been practicing criminal law for more than two decades. He represents clients in the Boston area and throughout Massachusetts. Attorney Neyman’s outstanding reputation among his peers and clients is a reflection of his rare talent and the first-class service that he provides. If you would like to speak with him about any criminal matter, call the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, P.C. at 617-263-6800 or contact him online.

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"My union rep told me to call Steve Neyman. From the get go I felt comfortable with him. He took the time to talk to me about my case whenever I needed .... He even gave me his personal cell number and took all my calls. We won the case and I kept my job." Bart L. S.
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