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What is accomplice liability for Coloradans?

Often referred to as complicity or aiding and abetting, accomplice liability is a legal term that means someone who did not actually commit a crime could be charged with the same crime as the person who did. Charges can be leveled if suspects are believed to be encouraging the other person to commit the crime or facilitating the process in any way.

For example, if one person gives another person a gun and tells them to rob a bank, and then that second person carries out the robbery and is caught, the first person could still face criminal charges. He or she may have obtained the gun legally and may not have gone into the bank, but the plan was that person's idea, he or she worked to make it happen, and in that way made the crime possible. Therefore, in the eyes of the law, that person still played a role.

Of course, these cases can get a bit tricky because the prosecution has to be able to show that the person was truly an accomplice in the case. This can be a very hard link to make. With the bank robber, there could be direct video footage of the crime being committed, so the case is quite cut and dried. However, even if the robber claims that someone else told him or her to do it, there will likely not be footage of that happening. The other person may never come within 100 miles of the bank. Because of this disconnect from the real crime, that person must be tied to it with convincing evidence if a conviction is to be given out.

If you have been accused of being an accomplice in Colorado, make sure that you know what defense options you have.

Source: FindLaw, "What is Complicity or Accomplice Liability?" accessed Jan. 23, 2015

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