Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Accessory

Quick Summary of Accessory

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

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.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Accessory. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. September 19, 2021
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Accessory. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: September 19, 2021).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Accessory. Retrieved September 19, 2021, from website:

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 April, 2020 | 7 Views.