Accessory after the Fact

Under Maryland law any person who provides assistance before or during the commission of a crime can face the same charges as the rest of the co-defendants. This includes defendants who plan a crime, provide transportation to or from a crime scene and those serving as lookouts.  The legal term for this is accomplice liability, and it often results in defendants being charged with crimes they never intended to commit.  The message behind this legal policy is to deter involvement with any type of criminal activity, but there are limitations to accomplice liability.  Accomplice liability ends when the criminal act is completed, and anyone who becomes involved after the conclusion of a criminal act cannot be charged with the original crime.  They can however face criminal prosecution for accessory after the fact, and the punishment for this offense can be severe.

Accessory after the fact under Maryland law 1-301 is only charged when the underlying offense is a felony, and it itself is also a felony.  The maximum penalty for accessory after the fact is 5 years in prison unless the underlying offense is less than 5 years.  In these rare situations the maximum penalty is equal to the maximum penalty for the underlying offense.  Accessory after the fact to murder in the first or second degree carries a 10-year maximum penalty, and is treated far more harshly by prosecutors and judges.  It is not uncommon for the State to seek the maximum penalty for anyone charged with accessory after the fact to murder, even if the guidelines call for a much lower sentence.  Accessory after the fact can occur in a number of scenarios, including disposing of a weapon used in a crime, hiding evidence of a crime or providing any type of assistance in covering up the criminal act.  In murder cases a person who attempts to conceal or dispose of the murder weapon is often treated unfairly as if they were involved with the criminal act.

There is no specific crime for being an accessory after the fact to a misdemeanor, though a person could face related offenses such as obstruction of justice or tampering with evidence.  Under Maryland law section 9-306, obstruction of justice is classified as a misdemeanor with a 5-year maximum penalty.  Tampering with evidence under 9-307 is a misdemeanor with a 3-year maximum penalty.  Obstruction of justice almost always accompanies a charge of accessory after the fact, and tampering or fabricating physical evidence is typically included when the defendant is accused of hiding or destroying a weapon or other physical object used in a crime.  If the State has a strong case for accessory, an experienced criminal lawyer may be able to convince the state to go on a lesser charge such as obstruction or tampering.

Do not let the state take advantage of you or your loved one in an accessory case.  Benjamin Herbst has successfully defended clients charged with accessory after the fact to murder in the first degree and is standing by to fight for you loved one.  He is a Maryland criminal defense lawyer who specializes accessory after the fact and is available for a free consultation 7 days a week at 410-207-2598.  Benjamin also has extensive experience defending charges of tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice, and provides all clients with his cell phone number and is never too busy to discuss the case with family members on nights or weekends.  He fights tooth and nail to eliminate the potential for jail time and to keep his client’s records as clean as possible.  Benjamin handles criminal cases in all Maryland jurisdictions from the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland, and the Baltimore and D.C. suburban areas in between.  He has won dozens of felony jury trials, and never backs down from prosecutors.
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