Sometimes We Have to Be Careful About How We Help a Loved One
If we break the law in helping a loved one who is in trouble with the law, we can make things more difficult for them — and for us. Aiding and abetting a criminal is a crime in Oklahoma. Here are some things that you might want to know about the crime of being an accessory to a felony in Oklahoma.
What Does it Mean to Be An Accessory to a Felony in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, you can either be a principal to a crime or an accessory to a crime. A principal to a crime is a person who aids the commission of the crime, or commits the crime directly. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 172
An accessory is someone who, after the commission of a felony, actively aids or conceals the offender, knowing that the offender committed a felony, with the intent to help the offender avoid or escape arrest, trial or conviction. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 173
In order for you to be charged with being an accessory, the underlying crime must be a felony. There are no accessories to misdemeanors. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 174
This crime is grounded in having knowledge of the underlying offense and actively helping the offender escape or avoid the process of the law. The prosecutor must prove that you concealed or aided the offender knowing the crime that was committed. In addition, the aid must be given with the intent that the offender avoid or escape from the law. OUJI-CR 2-2
If any of these elements are missing, or if the prosecutor cannot prove them, there is no conviction.
This could be a parent aiding their college-aged child avoid a drug charge by hiding them when the police are at the door, or this could be a girlfriend helping her boyfriend out the back of the house as the police are breaking down the door after the boyfriend shot another person. Or it could be a friend helping another friend hide a stolen car and escape over the state lines.
All of these are examples of how someone could be an accessory to a felony.
Penalties for Being an Accessory to a Felony
In Oklahoma, the penalty for being an accessory to a felony is directly related to the underlying felony involved. If the felony is one that is punishable by a prison term of four years or more, an accessory can be sentenced for up to half the maximum penalty allowed for that felony. If the felony is punishable by less than four years, an accessory could face up to one year in county jail. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 175
Just by hiding your loved one, you could face jail or prison time.
Likewise, if the underlying felony is punishable only by a fine, an accessory could face half that fine amount. And if the felony is subject to both a fine and a jail sentence, an accessory could end up paying up to half of the fine amount and half the longest jail time that can be imposed for that felony. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 175
An accessory to murder in the first degree could serve between five and 45 years in prison. For murder in the second degree, an accessory may serve between five and 25 years in prison.
These penalties are harsh, and in the heat of the moment, you may lose track of how severe they are and how your life could change in an instant. If you are being investigated or charged as an accessory, it is crucial that you hire an experienced Wagoner criminal defense attorney to help you protect your freedom.
Free Consultation: Wagoner Criminal Defense Attorney
This can be a frightening time. The criminal defense lawyers at Wirth Law Office – Wagoner are here to provide you a free consultation to discuss what our team can do to handle your criminal matter.
Contact us at 918-485-0335 to schedule your confidential and no-cost consultation. You may also contact us by email using the form at the top of this page.
Either way you reach out to our team, we’ll get back to you promptly to answer your legal questions.