Washington law makes it a crime for a person to serve as an accomplice in the commission of a crime. An accomplice essentially helps or encourages another person commit a criminal act. The offense can lead to felony charges and time in state prison. If you or a loved one are suspected of serving as an accomplice, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney now for help.
What is the Definition of an Accomplice Under Washington Law?
RCW 9A.08.020 is the Washington statute that sets forth the definition of “accomplice.” According to this law, a person is an accomplice in the commission of a crime if, with knowledge that it will promote or facilitate the commission of the crime, he or she either:
- Solicits, commands, encourages, or requests another person to commit the crime, or
- Aids or agrees to aid another person in planning or committing the crime.
For purposes of this statute, the term “aid” means all assistance whether given by words, acts, encouragement, support, or presence. As an example, consider the scenario where a person is pushing someone else and daring the party to a fight. If you cheer on the act, you could be charged as an accomplice to assault.
What are the Penalties?
An accomplice generally faces the same criminal charges under Washington law as the direct perpetrator. If convicted, the party typically also faces the same penalties.
Let us continue the above example involving assault. Assume again that a perpetrator was pushing a “victim” while picking a fight and you were encouraging the act. The penalties for assault include both lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines. For instance, a conviction for Assault 1 is punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $50,000 fine. So, if you encouraged the assault, or aided in its commission, you could get charged with the crime of assault and possibly face these same penalties, or:
- Life in prison, and/or
- A $50,000 fine.
Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?
Fortunately, people facing an accomplice charge can contest it with a legal defense. For example, recall that a person is an accomplice if he or she aided in the commission of a crime. Also, “aided” has a precise legal definition under Washington law. Therefore, a defendant can challenge an accomplice allegation by showing that his or her acts did not rise to the level of “aiding” a criminal act.
Further, an accused can often contest a charge by showing that law enforcement violated one of his/her constitutional rights. For example, if police obtained evidence in a case via an unlawful search or seizure, a judge may rule to reduce a charge or even drop a charge altogether.
Contact Black & Askerov for Help
While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge an accomplice charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced accomplice attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 25 years of combined experience defending clients on accomplice charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these types of cases. Our attorneys will also fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!