Getting arrested for DUI does not mean you will be convicted. Police misconduct, defective breathalyzers and crime lab mistakes may be enough to get your charges lessened or dismissed. Visit our page on Colorado DUI Laws to learn more.
The Difference Between “Aiding and abetting” & “Accessory to a crime” in Colorado
Aiding and abetting is helping someone commit a crime in Colorado, and it carries the same penalties as actually committing the crime.
By contrast, being an accessory to a crime (CRS 18-8-105) is assisting people who already committed a crime, such as hiding them from the police; being an accessory carries less harsh penalties than actually committing the crime.
What is Aiding and Abetting in Colorado?
In Colorado common law, people who aid and abet the commission of a crime are accomplices. Examples of aiding and abetting the commission of the offense are:
Driving a bank robber to the bank
Distracting a store cashier so a shoplifter can steal undetected
Disabling a surveillance camera so a burglar can enter a home without being recorded
Under CRS 18-1-603, accomplices in Colorado are treated no differently than the principals – the people who physically executed the underlying crime. Principals and accomplices face the exact same criminalcharges since they both contributed to the commission of the crime. Therefore, an aider of first-degree assault would face first-degree assault charges. And an abettor of second-degree assault would face second-degree assault charges, etc.
Though in practice, criminal law courts tend to impose lesser punishments on accomplices. So the accomplice who drove the thief to the store will probably face a lesser sentence than the actual thief even if they both get convicted of theft.
Under CRS 18-1-604, alleged accomplices can raise the following affirmativedefense to criminal charges: They terminated their effort to help commit the crime, and they either:
warned the police, or
warned the victim
Also, a person’s mere presence at the scene of the crime does not automatically make him or her an accomplice to such crime.1
Accomplices face the same charges as principals.
What is an Accessory after the Fact in Colorado?
Under CRS 18-8-105, an accessory is someone who assists a person who has committed a crime – or who is suspected of committing a crime. In order to be convicted of being an accessory, the person must have had the intent to prevent or hinder the suspect from being arrested, prosecuted, convicted, or punished.
Example: Paul tells his friend Jack that he killed a person, and the police are on his tail. Jack agrees to let Paul hide out in his basement. Here, Jack is an accessory to Paul because he is assisting Paul by harboring and concealing him from the police.
Other examples of committing the crime of accessory under Colorado law include:
warning a suspect that law enforcement officers are near;
giving money, weapons, or transportation to a suspect;
deceiving the police to throw them off the scent of a suspect;
destroying physical or testimonial evidence of a crime;
the performance of any act in an attempt to help a suspected criminal to escape justice
The punishment of such a person for being an accessory depends on the circumstances of the case:
Facts of the case
Colo. accessory penalties
The other person has been convicted of or charged with a class 1 or 2 felony criminal offense.
In short, accessories to a person who committed a felony are felons. But accessories to a person who committed a misdemeanor face only petty offense charges.
A common defense to accessory charges is that the defendant did not realize the other person was a criminal suspect. In other words, they lacked the required “mental state” and “specific intent” to help the principal escape justice. In any Colorado criminal case, the prosecution has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.2
Call our law firm for legal advice. Our criminal defense attorneys offer free consultations.
Our law office is headquartered in Denver Colorado, but our criminal defense lawyers create attorney-client relationships throughout the state, including Douglas County, Greenwood Village, Arapahoe, and more. You can contact our Colorado criminal lawyers by phone, text message, or the contact form on our law firm website. Our practice areas include criminal defense, defense of Colorado DUI and DWAI crimes, and all other felonies and misdemeanors in the state. We also have other law offices in the United States, including Colorado and Nevada.
Michael Becker has over a quarter-century's worth of experience as an attorney and more than 100 trials under his belt. He is a sought-after legal commentator and is licensed to practice law in Colorado, Nevada, California, and Florida.