Difference Between Aiding and Abetting a Crime

Aiding and abetment may sound similar to people. But they are distinct legal concepts with different meanings. Aiding a crime means assisting or providing help to someone else in committing a crime. On the other hand, the act of abetment involves encouraging or inciting someone to engage in criminal activity. In abetment, it does not automatically mean that the abettor helps execute the said crime.

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Criminal Offense

Aiding and abetting are both considered crimes. The individuals engaging in any of the acts are faced with accomplice liability. The convictions are charged with similar penalties as that of the underlying offense.

The crime is often termed aiding and abetting but engaging in any of the two results in accomplice liability. You will be held liable if you assist or help a criminal act and if you incite or abet a criminal act.

Aiding a crime

If an individual helps or assists a person in doing a criminal act, it is termed aiding a crime. For it to be considered, the crime has to take place. The aid provided by the individual must have a visible contribution to the offense. 

In order to determine the liability of aiding a crime, it is crucial that:

  • The individual must be aware that the person he assists is attempting to commit a criminal act. 

  • The individual must voluntarily behave to assist the person in committing the crime. 

Note that the individual is not necessarily required to be present at the crime scene to be held liable for aiding it. They could be liable even if the criminal offense occurred in their absence. However, their presence or absence is still considered while assessing the case. 

Abetting a crime

It is said to abet a crime when an individual encourages or supports someone to commit a crime. It can also include acts of instigating a criminal offense. The individual can passively promote the act. If someone is aware that a crime is going to take place and they are instigating it by their presence, they will face the liability for abetment. If someone knows about potential criminal activity and chooses to remain silent or inactive, they will be held liable for abetting the crime. Any act that includes advising and counseling a likely perpetrator to commit a crime is deemed abetment. 

Pedro Aylin
the authorPedro Aylin