A 26-year-old soldier died at his home in Kissimmee, Florida on December 27th from stomach wounds inflicted by the father of his wife’s child. According to news reports, the couple heard knocking outside their window at around 12:45 a.m. on December 27th. New accounts report that the wife went outside to speak with her ex-boyfriend, who showed up because the wife had not answered his texts or calls. Her husband followed her outside a short time later. The wife alleges that she turned to yell at another man who had given her ex-boyfriend a ride, when she saw her ex-boyfriend backing away from her husband who was holding a knife. The ex-boyfriend, now in custody, claims the deceased tried to punch him and that he stabbed the deceased with a paring knife in self defense.
The soldier was transported to the hospital where he died from his injuries. Police later arrested both men, charging the ex-boyfriend with second-degree murder and his friend with offenses related to the murder. While the investigation is still ongoing, it is possible the friend who provided a ride may face accomplice liability charges.
What is Accomplice Liability?
The words accessory, accomplice, aider, and abettor are often used interchangeably when referring to the legal concept of “accomplice liability.” Simply, it means that if you knowingly help someone else commit a crime, you could also be convicted of that crime regardless of your role in the crime. In this instance, the friend who provided a ride and provide a ride after the crime was committed could face similar charges. Here are some important concept to remember related to accomplice liability:
Principal in First Degree v Principal in Second Degree
A “principal in the first degree” is the person who actually commits the crime. In this case the principal in first degree is the person who stabbed the soldier. Interestingly, you can also be a principal in the first degree if you force another innocent person to commit a crime. A “principal in the second degree” is the person we think of as the accomplice. This is the person who is present at the crime and who knowingly helps the principal in the first degree commit a crime.
Accessory After the Fact
An accessory after the fact helps after the crime is committed. An accessory after the fact knowingly helps someone avoid trial arrest or conviction.
Accomplices Encourage or Help Crime
An accomplice encourages or helps someone commit a crime, even if there is very little help provided.
Let an Attorney Help
Accomplice liability laws are complex. Beside the complexity of accomplice relationships, the facts of every case are unique. Contact Orlando Criminal Defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth. We understand the nuances Florida’s accomplice laws and can help you deal with accomplice charges. Please contact us today at 407-377-0150 to schedule an initial appointment.