Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

What is An Accessory After or Before the Fact?

Due to raids of a Norton apartment and a Quincy location, state law enforcement comments that they seized nearly $100,000, a firearm, and many drugs belonging to an individual who was recently in a fatal Taunton car crash. 

The raid happened at the apartment where the man resided with his girlfriend and suspected drug trafficking accomplice who kept many drugs, including fentanyl. The girlfriend, who does not have a criminal record, has since been arraigned on charges.

The man was held without bail and faces various charges, including manslaughter due to the car crash. 

Our criminal defense lawyers appreciate the challenges faced by people who are charged with accessories in connection to a crime. During the entire criminal law process, our attorneys will explain your rights and the various legal options.

Any individual who facilitates a crime can be classified as an accessory in Massachusetts. A person is viewed as an accessory before the fact if that individual in any way helps the principal actor who committed the felony offense. As the names suggest, one refers to helping before a criminal offense, and the other is for helping a principal after the crime has already been committed. When defending people who are charged as accessories to a crime, various elements must be considered, including where the offense occurred and the severity of the offense.

What it Means to Be an Accessory to a Crime

The law states that an accessory cannot be charged without the principal actor also being charged. This approach, however, has evolved over time. Lawmakers in Massachusetts rejected this approach and wrote into law that even if the principal is not facing charges, an accessory can still receive a conviction. People who are charged as accessories should receive charges in the county where the crime was committed rather than where they provided help.

The Elements of Being Convicted as an Accessory

During a trial, it is a good idea to establish various elements to prove that a person is an accessory. These elements include the following:

  • A felony must be shown to have been committed. The crime must be based on the notion that a felony was committed, which must be shown during the trial.
  • The prosecution must establish that the defendant intended to help in the crime’s concealment or commission. The law recognizes that it is possible for an innocent party to inadvertently assist a guilty party in the commission of a crime without appreciating the consequences of his actions.
  • The act committed by the accessory must have either helped with the crime’s commission or concealment. An exception exists for people who are an accessory after the fact.

Speak With a Drug Crime Defense Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one is facing a drug charge, one of the best things that you can do is promptly obtain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact Attorney Edward R Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.