Could I be considered a accessory to a crime

Was riding in a vehicle with
some friends and 2 of the
friends got out of the car I
thought to use the bathroom
but instead they set a ditch
on fire please tell me what I
need to do to avoid getting
in trouble they have
threatened to hurry me if I
say anything

Asked on March 10, 2018 under Criminal Law, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Did you help them get away from the scene of the crime, such as by driving them away--i.e. were you the driver? Or did you help them hide their involvement in some way? If so, then you could be an accessory after the fact: your state defines that as a person who 1) has knowledge that a crime was committed, and 2) with knowledge, helps them get away or escape punishment.
However, 2) is as or more important than 1)--you must do something to actively help them, whether with the get away, hiding evidence, misleading the authorities, etc. Simply knowing that they committed a criminal act does not make you an accessory--we don't punish people just for knowing of crimes, or require them to actively call or go to the authorities to report the crime. We simply require them to not do something to help the criminal. If you did not help, you are not an accessory.
 


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