This content was written for Cale Law Office

Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale explains the crime of being an accessory. Call the Cale Law Office at 918-277-4800 to set up an appointment for your free initial consultation and your free defense strategy plan.

Generally speaking, all parties to a crime can be guilty of the criminal offense. To understand this, it’s important to talk about the principal, the accomplice, and accessory after the fact.


A principal is one, who with the required mental state, actually engages in the act or omission that causes the criminal offense. Additionally, anyone who acts through an innocent, or unwilling agent is classified as a principal. Here’s an example: Adam gives a poisonous drink to Larry to give to Moe. Larry does so. Moe drinks it and dies. If Larry did not know that the drink was poisonous, or if Larry was mentally ill or under duress, Adam, not Larry, is the principal. It’s important to note that the principal does not need to be present when the harm results.


An accomplice is one who: 1) with intent to assist the principal and the intent that the principal commit the crime; 2) actually aids, counsels, or encourages the principal before or during the commission of the crime.

Accessory After the Fact

An accessory after the fact is one who receives, relieves, comforts, or assist another, knowing that he has committed a felony, in order to help the felon escape arrest trial or conviction. The crime committed by the principal must be a felony. The crime also must be completed at the time that the aid is rendered. In some instances, this crime may be referred to as harboring a fugitive, aiding escape, or obstructing justice.

Dual Intent Required

In order to be convicted of a crime as an accomplice, accomplices must 1) have one the intent to assist the principal in the commission of the crime and 2) intent of the principal commit the underlying offense. When the underlying offense has recklessness or negligence as it’s been so Rea, most jurisdictions hold that intent element is satisfied at the accomplice: 1) intent to facilitate commission the crime; and 2) acted with recklessness or negligence – whichever is required by the particular crime.

Breadth of Liability

An accomplice is responsible for the crimes he did or canceled and for any other crimes committed in the course of committing the crime contemplated, as long as the other crimes were probable or foreseeable. Here’s an example: Lenny tells Bob to burn Charles’s house. Bob does so. The fire spreads to Stephen’s house and it was foreseeable that would do so. Lenny is an accomplice to the burning of Stephen’s house.


There is a defense to being an accomplice that is called withdrawal. Someone who has rendered encouragement or aid to another may avoid criminal liability as an accomplice if he voluntarily withdraws from the crime before it is actually committed by the principal. One is necessary for an effective withdrawal depends upon what the person initially did. If the person merely encouraged the commission of the crime, withdrawal requires that he repudiate this encouragement. The person assisted in providing some material principal, withdrawal requires that a lease that person attempt to neutralize this assistance. If it’s impossible to withdrawal by these methods, enter alternative means of withdrawing is to notify authorities or take some other action to prevent the commission of the offense. In any case, the withdrawal must occur before the chain of events leading to the commission the crime becomes unstoppable.

An accessory to a crime is different from the crime of solicitation. Solicitation consists of inciting, counseling, advising, inducing, urging, or commanding another to commit a crime with a specific intent that the person solicited commit the crime. The offense is completed at the time that the solicitation is made. It is not necessary that the person solicited agreed to commit the crime or do anything in response. Either way, it’s well worth the money to get the best Tulsa criminal defense attorney.

Solicitation is distinguishable from attempt. Factual impossibility is no defense to the crime of solicitation. In other words, it is not a defense of the solicitation could not have been successful, as where the person solicited was a police undercover agent. The criminal responsibility of the person doing the solicitation is merit measured by the circumstances as he believed them to be. Also, withdrawal or renunciation is not offense. Once it’s the solicitation has been made it is generally no defense that the solicitor changed his mind or countermanded her advise her urging.


A criminal attempt is an act that, although done with the intention of committing a crime, falls short of accomplishing it, according to Tulsa Criminal Defense Attorney Stephen Cale. Attempt, therefore, consists of two elements: 1) a specific intent to commit the crime, and 2) in an overt act in the furtherance of that intent. Attempt to require specific intent. Regardless of the intent required for a complete defense, and attempt ours always requires a specific intent. For example, attempted murder requires the specific intent to kill another person. The defendant must have committed an act beyond mere preparation for the offense. This is the overt act component for criminal attempt. Legal impossibility is a defense. If the defendant completed all acts that he intended but would have committed no crime he cannot be guilty of an attempt to do the same when he fails to complete all the intended acts. True legal impossibility is very rare. Factual impossibility is no defense. In other words, it is no defense that the underlying crime is incapable of completion to do some physical or factual condition unknown to the defendant. A person charged with a completed crime may be found guilty of either the completed crime or an attempt to commit the crime as long as the evidence presented supports such a verdict. The converse is not true. A defendant didn’t charge only with intent cannot be convicted of the completed crime.

This area of law can be very tricky. So if you are charged with any of these types of crimes, it’s important that you call Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale at 918-277-4800.