How Does the Prosecutor Prove Aiding and Abetting?

Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers in Washington,DC


PROVING AIDING AND ABETTINGWhat is aiding and abetting pursuant to 18 U.S. Code § 2?   Aiding and abetting is individual that assist other(s) in its commission of a crime through advice, actions, or financial support.    It is now well settled law that whoever aid, abet, procure, or  helps with the commission of a crime are guilty as principals.  A conviction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2, is based on an aiding and abetting theory, those convicted as aiders and abettors are just as responsible as the principal.    The Government is using Aiding and Abetting in a lot of the Capitol Breach Cases.  


What are the elements that must be proven to be convicted of aiding and abetting?

For the Government to prove that individual violated 18 U.S.C. § 2 the Government must prove 4 elements:

1. That the accused had specific intent to facilitate the commission of a crime by another;

2. That the accused had the requisite intent of the underlying substantive offense;

3. That the accused assisted or participated in the commission of the underlying substantive offense; and

4. That someone committed the underlying offense.

A jury must find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly and intentionally aided and abetted the principal(s) in each essential element of the crime. 

Can I be charged with Aiding and Abetting only?

No.  Aiding and Abetting is not an independent crime under 18 U.S.C. § 2. That statute provides no penalty, it only distinguishes between principal and aider.  An individual may be indicted as a principal for the crime and convicted as an aider and abettor.

Is Intent Necessary for Aiding and Abetting?

The District of Columbia Court has ruled that an aider and abettor need not have the exact same intent as the principal.  See United States v. Washington, 106 F.3d 983, 1004 n.32 (D.C. Cir.)petition for cert. filed, (July 29, 1997) (No. 97-5423).

What is the Penalty to 18 U.S.C. § 2

There is no independent penalty for aiding and abetting.   Whatever the penalty is for the underlining crime that the principal is facing is the same penalty for the aider and abettor.