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What does aiding and abetting mean?

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2020 | Drug Charges |

While dealing with drug crimes, it is important to know what each charge means. Aiding and abetting is an often misunderstood term which refers to a specific action.

According to the Legal Dictionary, aiding and abetting is the act of encouraging or helping someone commit a crime. This also means that lying to cover up someone’s illegal actions is a crime under this law. For those facing drug charges, this may include not telling the authorities about a specific action done by someone during the crime. The language put in place referring to this law in 1948 onwards, as seen in 18 U.S.C. Section 2(a), also states that you must have done the action willingly. Therefore, someone threatening you or forcing you to lie under duress leads to a different legal situation.

There are three certain facts that the prosecutor must prove in order for aiding and abetting to be true. The first is that you must have meant to purposefully aid whoever committed the crime, and not done so accidentally. In addition, you must have taken positive action. This is otherwise known as being an active participant in some way, which includes small actions. There also must be another person who actually committed the main crime that you are being charged with aiding and abetting. To be fully certain you have committed this act, there must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that you meet all three of these elements.

Fully understanding these terms is helpful not only for your own benefit, but also for learning more about possible defenses.