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Illinois Aiding, Abetting, and Accessory Laws

In Illinois, a criminal charge of aiding and abetting or accessory can usually be brought against anyone who helps another person commit a crime. First, you must know someone else is going to commit a crime AND do something to make it succeed. You don't have to actually be there when the crime is committed, but you must know about the crime and give some assistance to the primary criminal through advice, actions, or financial support.

For example, if you tell another person how to steal a car, drive the thief to the scene, and lend him or her burglary tools, you and the thief can be equally responsible for car theft -- even if the thief did the actual stealing and you just watched. Even lending the thief the burglary tools, knowing he will use them to break into cars can be enough for you to be liable.

You can also be an "accessory" before or after a crime, such as by harboring a known fugitive in your home.

The following table highlights the main provisions of Illinois's Aiding, Abetting, and Accessory laws. See also Conspiracy, Accomplice Liability.

Code Section §720 ILCS 5/5-1,2,3.
What is Prohibited? Knowingly assisting or helping someone commit a crime. If can be before or after the offense. You don't have to be physically present at the scene of the crime to be guilty.
Type of Crime Felony or misdemeanor.
Aiders, abettors, and accessories can be punished for the same crime as the main perpetrator including prison or jail time, fines, probation, community service and restitution to the victim.

Because aiding, abetting, and accessory laws can sometimes get complicated, and because laws are always changing, it may be a good idea to consult an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney if you have questions about your specific situation and the current state of the law.

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