Wednesday, July 14, 2010

“I DIDN’T DO IT!”: WHEN YOU ARE CHARGED AS AN ACCESSORY TO A CRIME

One night, you were driving your buddy around town. You stopped at a convenience store. Your buddy ran in and next thing you knew, he had a wad of money in his hand and some beer. You didn’t know he was going to rob the store when he went in, but now that he did, you figured you might as well have some beer and anyway, he owes you some cash. Now you are charged with robbing the store.

In Illinois, if you help someone commit a crime, even if your help took place before or after the event, you can be charged with the same offense. Helping is legally defined as soliciting, aiding, abetting, agreeing or attempting to aid the other person in the planning or commission of the offense. This can include driving someone to or from the scene or even loaning them your car as long as you had the intent to facilitate the commission of the crime.

Furthermore, if you help plan a crime or conspire to commit a crime, and there is one act taken by any of the conspirators to further the crime, you are now liable for everything that happens even if someone else did it. For example, if you plan to rob a store and your buddy shoots the store clerk, you can now be charged with the shooting even if you weren’t in the room.

If you are involved with a crime and may have aided or abetted the offense, it is critical that you make no statements about the situation to the police or anyone else. You may not think your conduct amounted to criminal involvement, but your statements may be enough to guarantee your conviction. Furthermore, if you do attempt to minimize or lie about your involvement in the crime, any statements you make may trap you later. The best policy is to say nothing without the advice of an attorney.

If you are charged with this type of crime, there may still be hope. Your involvement in the crime may have been too minimal to convict you. The state still has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to participate in the crime.

If the crime has not yet taken place and you now want out of the conspiracy, you might still avoid criminal responsibility if you do one of three things: You can warn law enforcement or be sure to undo any help you provided or make a proper effort to prevent the offense. An attorney can help you determine your best strategy.

If you have any questions or wish to talk to an attorney, do not hesitate to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or matt@mattkeenanlaw.com. If the matter is urgent, a phone call will insure a more timely response.


Source: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=072000050HArt%2E+5&ActID=1876&ChapterID=53&SeqStart=7100000&SeqEnd

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves clients in the communities of Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Palatine, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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