Could I be considered a accessory to a crime

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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