Nevada law recognizes two types of parties to a criminal offense:
- Principals, who are the people who actually commit a crime, and
- Accessories after the fact (or "accessories"), who are people who hide, aid, or otherwise help principals avoid arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment for the crime
In sum, accessories after the fact assist principals in escaping prosecution or sentencing for a past offense. Typical examples of accessory behavior include:
- concealing a principal
- throwing out evidence of a crime
- helping fugitives run away
- telling lies to the police
Note that people are not considered accessories under Nevada law if they are related to the principal as a spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, child, or grandchild. Also note that no accessories exist in misdemeanor cases...only felonies and gross misdemeanors can have accessories in Nevada.
Common defenses to Nevada accessory charges include that the defendant acted under duress, was merely a bystander mistaken as an accessory, or lacked any knowledge of the principal's crime. The punishment for acting as an accessory to a felony crime includes:
- 1 - 5 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- maybe up to $10,000 in fines
The punishment for acting as an accessory to a gross misdemeanor carries:
- 30 days - 6 months in jail, and/or
- $100 - $500 in fines
Being an accessory is different from being a conspirator. Whereas conspiracies consist of two or more people who agree to commit a crime, accessories act after the crime is committed and without having to agree with anyone. Read more information about the Nevada crime of being an accessory after the fact.