Illinois residents who are accused of helping or encouraging another person to commit a crime could potentially be charged as an accomplice. Someone who is accused of being an accomplice can potentially face a prison sentence and other serious consequences.
Before a person can be accused of being an accomplice to a crime, there are several elements that a prosecutor must be able to prove. First, there must be proof that the actual crime was committed by another person. Second, the person accused of being an accomplice must have aided the other person in committing the crime. Third, the person must have knowingly or purposefully assisted in the crime. For example, people may serve as a getaway driver, loaned a handgun to a person they knew was planning a crime or turning off an alarm system so a crime could be more easily committed.
There is a difference between being an accomplice and being a conspirator. A conspirator is someone who plans to commit a future crime. A conspirator can be charged with conspiracy to commit a crime even if the crime does not ever happen. An accomplice is someone who assists as a crime is being committed and cannot be charged unless the crime actually takes place.
People who are accused of being an accomplice may still face very serious consequences even if they themselves did not actually commit a crime. A criminal defense attorney may assist by providing an alibi that shows that the person could not have been involved in the crime. Other evidence may potentially include witness testimony and security footage if it is available.