Texas prosecutors seek stiff punishment for criminals. But in their zeal to reduce crime, they often go after those people who might have assisted in the commission of a crime. If you did not participate in a criminal act but nevertheless helped the criminal in some way, you could face aiding and abetting charges. Contact Houston criminal defense attorney Tad Nelson today if the police knock on your door to ask about your involvement in a crime.
What Is Aiding & Abetting?
Under Section 7.02 of the Penal Code, you can be found guilty of aiding and abetting if you knowingly:
- Cause or assist an innocent person to commit a crime
- Encourage, aid, solicit, encourage, or attempt to aid another person committing a crime
- Fail to reasonably prevent the commission of a crime, if you have a legal duty to do so
In the burglary context, you could be picked up for any of the following:
- Driving someone to a house to commit burglary
- Driving the getaway car
- Hiding any goods stolen from a home so the police do not find them
- Giving money or equipment to help someone burglarize a house
- Providing information to help a person commit a crime, such as telling them when security guards are off duty
- Lying to the authorities to hinder their investigation
- Hiding a person who the police are looking for
Note how the law does not require that you be at the scene of the crime. It’s enough that you in some way contributed to the commission of the act. For example, giving robbers the password to a person’s house is enough to establish criminal culpability.
Punishment for Aiding and Abetting
A person convicted of aiding and abetting burglary can be charged with burglary. This might sound severe, but it is absolutely the law in Texas. Even without leaving your house, you could face felony burglary charges and years in prison—all based on someone else’s conduct.
For burglary into someone’s home, you could be charged with a second-degree felony and see a maximum of 20 years in prison. Other burglaries are charged as state jail felonies.
How Do You Defend Against Charges?
The statute requires that you knowingly helped or aided a criminal. For example, you might have driven your cousin to someone’s house, assuming they were going for a social visit. You had no idea he was intending to break in when you gave him a lift, so you did not aid in its commission.
However, Texas law states it’s not a defense if the person who committed the crime is never charged or is even acquitted! The prosecutor can still come after you—provided they have enough evidence to get a conviction.
Our Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Can Explain Your Options
One little lie to the police should not send you away to jail for years. If you are suspected of aiding a criminal, please contact The Law Offices of Tad Nelson today. Our consultations are confidential.