What Makes Someone an Accessory to Murder?

accessory to murder

If you’re suddenly accused of somehow being connected to a homicide investigation as an “accessory,” your mind is probably swirling with a lot of questions.

What does it even mean to be charged as an accessory to murder? What kind of penalties could you be facing for someone else’s actions?

At Whalen Law Office, our criminal defense lawyers field many calls from individuals facing serious crimes.

It’s important to know that Texas does not recognize “accessory” charges—under the state’s law of parties statute, you would be charged with the same crimes as co-defendants rather than accessory language.

But this doesn’t mean your case is hopeless. We’ll walk you through what it means to be an accessory to murder and overview defense options.

Get answers and take control when accused of the unthinkable. Call Whalen Law Office now to start building your defense strategy.

Defining What Makes Someone an “Accessory” or Accomplice to Murder

At the most basic level, an accessory to murder is a person who intentionally aids or assists the actual killer before or after the crime takes place. Note the keyword there is “intentionally” – your actions to help must be proven as knowing and deliberate, not accidental or coerced.

The technical definitions around criminal accessory focus on intentionally facilitating felony activity in two potential timeframes:

Accessory After the Fact

Providing assistance to the murderer AFTER the homicide occurs. This could mean activities like driving them away from the crime scene, hiding the weapon, or actively working to cover up their involvement by destroying evidence or providing false alibis.

Accessory Before the Fact

Assisting the murderer BEFORE the act of murder takes place. This encompasses actions like driving them to/from the crime scene while understanding their intent to kill the victim, supplying them with a weapon, or any advance planning activities that enable them to carry out the homicide.

What is the “Law of Parties” in Texas?

The “law of parties” in Texas basically means you can face criminal charges for another person’s crime even without directly participating yourself. It’s a risky law that ensnares many unintentionally.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • If you help plan, assist, or encourage a crime in any way, you become “criminally responsible” for the offense, too, by Texas statute.
  • Even if you just fail to reasonably stop others from committing offenses, you have a duty to prevent them. Charges can stick.
  • By aiding felonies in any capacity, you inherit consequences like co-defendants for all crimes flowing from initial plans. The law abolished old distinctions separating accomplices.

So, unintended offenses like murder can still bring charges your way in Texas. You will face the same consequences as your co-defendants.

Building Your Legal Defense as an Alleged Accessory

If questioned or accused of aiding violent Texas crimes in any capacity, immediately reach out to a skilled local criminal defense lawyer before making any statements. The stakes for unintentionally incriminating yourself are extremely high here.

Our criminal defense lawyers will evaluate the prosecution’s case details and conduct a thorough investigation of potential weaknesses.

Common defenses in accessory allegations we often employ include:

  • Lack of Knowledge – Argue no evidence you actually knew in advance of the criminal plans and intentions.
  • Duress/Coercion Defense – Claim any minor assistance only occurred due to dangerous threats against your life.
  • Dispute Principal Offender’s Guilt – Attack the strength of the case against the main defendant given that the burden is on the prosecution.

We know the weight of murder charges feels crushing and unfair if your involvement is being falsely portrayed or you acted under immediate threats. But our defense lawyers can lift that weight quickly through clever investigation work and fiercely using every defense resource guaranteed under the law.

Don’t wait to start strategizing your best path forward by contacting my team for an urgent consultation today.

Seek Guidance From Trusted Legal Professionals

If facing murder charges as an alleged accomplice, our criminal defense attorneys at Whalen Law Office stand ready to examine the facts and help you chart a wise path forward.
Having represented those battling allegations on all sides for decades, no defense team wields sharper judgment informed by experience.

Contact our office immediately to schedule your case assessment and clamp down on prosecutorial overreach.

Author Bio

James P. Whalen

James P. Whalen is the managing attorney and founder of Whalen Law Office, a Texas criminal defense firm offering personalized legal representation for various federal criminal charges. With a commitment to providing comfort and guidance during challenging times, Mr. Whalen serves as both an attorney and counselor to his clients, helping them navigate their cases while striving to restore normalcy to their lives.

In an inherently unbalanced criminal justice system, Mr. Whalen takes on cases with unwavering dedication. With decades of legal experience, he offers representation across various criminal charges, including white-collar crimes, violent crimes, drug charges, and more. Mr. Whalen’s numerous accolades, including Super Lawyer recognition and board certification in Criminal Appellate Law and Criminal Law, reflect his unwavering commitment to ethical and high-quality legal representation.

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