Accessory

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Definition: Accessory


Accessory

Quick Summary of Accessory


A person who voluntarily aids the principal person responsible for committing a crime.



Video Guide For Accessory




What is the dictionary definition of Accessory?

Dictionary Definition


legal A person who is not present at a crime, but contributes to it as an assistant or instigator.

  1. Having a secondary, supplementary or subordinate function by accompanying as a subordinate; aiding in a secondary way; being additional; being connected as an incident or subordinate to a principal; contributing or being contributory. Said of persons and things, and, when of persons, usually in a bad sense; as, he was accessory to the riot; accessory sounds in music.
  2. Assisting a crime without actually participating in committing the crime itself.
  3. Present in a minor amount, and not essential.

n. a second-string player who helps in the commission of a crime by driving the getaway car, providing the weapons, assisting in the planning, providing an alibi, or hiding the principal offender after the crime. Usually, the accessory is not immediately present during the crime, but must be aware that the crime is going to be committed or has been committed. Usually, an accessory’s punishment is less than that of the main perpetrator, but a tough jury or judge may find the accessory just as responsible.


Full Definition of Accessory


Someone who intentionally helps another person commit a felony by giving advice before the crime or helping to conceal the evidence or the perpetrator. An accessory is usually not physically present during the crime. For example, hiding a robber who is being sought by the police might make you an “accessory after the fact” to a robbery.

This term has essentially the same meaning as Accomplice: a person who assists in the perpetration or commission of an offence but is not the direct cause of the Actus Reus. At common law it was possible to be an `accessory after the fact’, that is, to render assistance to offenders after the offence was committed. This meta of `accessory’ is not an `accomplice’ in the modern definition and is covered by different legislation.

In criminal law, contributing to or aiding in the commission of a crime. One who, without being present at the commission of an offense, becomes guilty of such offense, not as a chief actor, but as a participant, as by command, advice, instigation, or concealment; either before or after the fact or commission.

One who aids, abets, commands, or counsels another in the commission of a crime.

In common law, an accessory could not be found guilty unless the actual perpetrator was convicted. In most U.S. jurisdictions today, however, an accessory can be convicted even if the principal actor is not arrested or is acquitted. The prosecution must establish that the accessory in some way instigated, furthered, or concealed the crime. Typically, punishment for a convicted accessory is not as severe as that for the perpetrator.

An accessory must knowingly promote or contribute to the crime. In other words, she or he must aid or encourage the offense deliberately, not accidentally. The accessory may withdraw from the crime by denouncing the plans, refusing to assist with the crime, contacting the police, or trying to stop the crime from occurring.

An accessory before the fact is someone behind the scenes who orders a crime or helps another person commit it. Many jurisdictions now refer to accessories before the fact as parties to the crime or even accomplices. This substitution of terms can be confusing because accessories are fundamentally different from accomplices. Strictly speaking, whereas an accomplice may be present at the crime scene, an accessory may not. Also, an accomplice generally is considered to be as guilty of the crime as the perpetrator, whereas an accessory has traditionally received a lighter punishment.

An accessory after the fact is someone who knows that a crime has occurred but nonetheless helps to conceal it. Today, this action is often termed obstructing justice or harboring a fugitive.

An infamous accessory after the fact was Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, the physician and Confederate sympathizer who set John Wilkes Booth’s leg after it was broken when the assassin jumped from President Abraham Lincoln’s box at Ford Theater. Despite Mudd’s protestation of innocence, he was tried and convicted as an accessory after the fact in Lincoln’s murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas off Key West, Florida. President Andrew Johnson pardoned Mudd in 1869, and the U.S. Congress gave him an official pardon in 1979.


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Definition Sources


Definitions for Accessory are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 26th November, 2021 | 13 Views.