Even if you didn’t hurt anybody or take anyone’s property, the fact that you materially supported the perpetrator of a crime is enough to land you behind bars under Indiana’s complicity laws. So, if you drive a getaway vehicle, help plan a robbery, or even if you convince someone to a commit a crime, you may get charged.
An individual can be charged with complicity to various misdemeanor and felony level offenses including, but not limited to:
There is no specific penalty for complicity. Instead, your sentence will be determined by the crime that you allegedly helped to commit. If your accomplice allegedly committed a murder, you too may face criminal charges for murder and receive the same sentence. Fortunately, a skilled and experienced Indianapolis criminal defense attorney may be able to rebut the charges against you and bring your case to a positive resolution.
Contact Hessler Law today at (317) 886-8800 to find out how we can help you.
When May I Be Considered an Accomplice Under Indiana Law?
According to Indiana Code section 35-41-2-4, a “person who knowingly or intentionally aids, induces, or causes another to commit an offense commits that offense” himself. When determining whether you should face a conviction under this section, courts look at the following factors:
- Whether you were present at the scene of the crime
- Your relationship to the other suspects of the crime
- Whether the perpetrators knew of your help
- Whether you opposed the commission of the crime at some point
- Your actions and statements before, during, and after occurrence of the crime
Just being present at the scene of the crime is usually not enough to sustain a conviction. There generally has to be some affirmative action taken by the alleged accomplice. Some examples of situations that might lead to you being considered as an accomplice include:
- Waiting on the street and keeping watch for the police or witnesses while your friends rob a business or a home
- Giving advice to a friend on how to break open safes, when you know that it is likely that your friend will act on your advice and commit a theft
- Giving weapons to people who might use them to commit a crime
- Hiding evidence for a friend who is being investigated for a crime
Under all of the above scenarios, you may get charged with the same crime that the other person – known as the principal – has committed. If the principal offender committed multiple offenses, you may be charged with all of those offenses too as long as the prosecutor can show that you encouraged or had a role in them.
What Are the Defenses to Being Charged as an Accomplice?
Complicity cases are diverse and often complex because a suspect may get charged with a wide variety of offenses. That being said, there are some common strategies that an Indianapolis complicity defense lawyer will always look into in these sorts of cases:
- Fighting the prosecutor’s evidence – In some cases where you might be suspected of being an accomplice, the evidence connecting you with the crime may have been obtained illegally. For example, the police may have searched the principal suspect’s home without a proper warrant and found a weapon belonging to you in the process. If the weapon was used in a crime, you may get charged as an accomplice. If your lawyer motions to suppress the weapon from evidence, however, the prosecutor may not use it in the case against you.
- Arguing that you withdrew your support or assistance – If you encouraged or assisted in the commission of a crime, you may be able to avoid accomplice liability if you can demonstrate that you withdrew your support. For this argument to work, you must be able to prove that you withdrew your support before the crime occurred or its occurrence became inevitable. Furthermore, the withdrawal must be effective. This means that if you took concrete steps in aiding the crime, you must take concrete steps to renounce the crime. Just saying that you don’t want to go through with the crime might not be an effective withdrawal.
- Proving reasonable doubt – The prosecutor must prove every element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction. So, if your lawyer can demonstrate that there is even a reasonable possibility that you did not provide active assistance or encouragement towards the commission of the crime, you may be acquitted. For example, if you can get a statement from the principal perpetrator that they were not aware of your support, that raises significant doubt as to whether you were an effective accomplice to the crime.
- Negotiating with the prosecutor – Many criminal cases get resolved before they go to trial when the prosecutor offers a plea agreement to the defendant. Depending on the circumstances specific to your case, this may be your best option. You should always secure a plea agreement with the help of an attorney who can use their negotiating skills to get you the best arrangement possible. For example, it may be possible to obtain the guarantee of a lenient sentence or a conviction for a less serious offense.
If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime in Indiana because the police have reason to believe that you are a criminal accomplice, you may be feeling overwhelmed and helpless. With a seasoned Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer by your side, you can maximize your chances of obtaining a good case outcome.