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4 things you need to know if you had foreknowledge of a crime

Did you have any kind of foreknowledge of a crime? If so, there are four things that you should know before you consider talking to the police.

-- Knowledge alone doesn't make you guilty of being an accomplice.

Just knowing that your friend was planning to rob some place, somewhere, doesn't make you an accomplice to the crime.

However, if you took any positive action to encourage the crime, assisted your friend or aided your friend in any way, you could be guilty of being an accomplice.

For example, if you suggested that your friend should rob the local Chinese restaurant instead of the liquor store because you know the owner of the liquor store carries a gun, that's enough to make you an accomplice.

-- An accomplice is just as guilty of the crime as the person who actually does the deed.

That means that your advice could get you charged with whatever charges your friend is facing -- and you could pull an equally stiff sentence.

-- If you're guilty of being an accomplice to one crime, you're guilty of being an accomplice to any additional crimes that followed.

For example, imagine again that you suggested that your friend should rob the Chinese restaurant thinking it would be less dangerous than the liquor store. If the owner put up a fight and your friend ended up shooting the owner during the robbery, you're now guilty of murder as well as robbery.

-- You need to speak to an attorney before you speak to the police.

One of the biggest mistakes that people make is trying to minimize their role in a crime without realizing that they're confessing to being an accomplice. There's often a very fine line between merely having foreknowledge of an event and being complicit -- one could make you a witness that the prosecution can use at trial, while the other can land you in jail.

Even if you think you may be guilty of being an accomplice, a criminal defense attorney can often negotiate a deal with the prosecution that will still help you.

Source: FIndLaw, "What is Complicity or Accomplice Liability?," accessed April 28, 2017

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