It is common knowledge that when a person commits a crime, there may be criminal consequences. This is also true for accomplices, or people who aid, assist, or encourage others to commit crimes. When a person did not personally commit a crime there are many defenses that an attorney may be able to raise.
Broadly put, an accomplice is a person who participates in a criminal act, even though that person does not actually take part in the commission of the offense. Under Virginia law, an accomplice is defined as “a person who knowingly, voluntarily, and with common intent with the principal offender unites in the commission of a crime.” A person who is present during the commission of the crime, aids and abets, and encourages through words, gestures, signals, or actions or otherwise helps a person to commit a crime is considered a 2nd degree principal. Under Virginia law, 2nd degree principals may be tried as if they were principals in the first degree. The laws regarding vicarious criminal liability in Virginia are complicated, and anyone facing allegations of helping commit a crime should consult with an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.