In common law ‘accessory person’ is that person who assists in the commission of a crime, but who does not actually participate in the commission of the crime. The distinction between an accessory and a principal is a question of fact and degree:
The principal is That person whose acts or omissions, accompanied by the relevant ‘mens rea’ are the most immediate cause of the guilty act.
If two or more people are directly responsible for the guilty act they can be charged as joint principals. The test to distinguish a joint principal from an accessory is whether the defendant independently contributed to causing the guilty acts rather than merely giving generalised and limited help and encouragement.
In some jurisdictions, an accessory is distinguished from an accomplice (ساتھی ، شریک جرم) who normally is present at the crime and participates in some way. An accessory must generally have knowledge that a crime is being committed, will be committed, or has been committed. A person with such knowledge may become an accessory by helping or encouraging the criminal in some way. The assistance to the criminal may be of any type, including emotional or financial assistance as well as physical assistance or concealment.
Relative severity of penalties
The punishment tariff for accessories varies in different jurisdictions, and has varied at different periods of history. In some times and places accessories have been subject to lesser penalties than principals ( the persons who actually commit the crime ). In others accessories are considered the same as principals in theory, although in a particular case an accessory may be treated less severely than a principal. In some times and places accessories before the fact ‘with knowledge of the crime before it is committed’. have been treated differently from accessories after the fact’ those who aid a principal after a crime has been committed, but had no role in the crime itself’. Common law traditionally considers an accessory just as guilty as the principal in a crime, and subject to the same penalties. Separate and lesser punishments exist by statute in many jurisdictions.
Conspiracy ( سازش )
In some situations, a charge of conspiracy can be made even if the primary offense is never committed, so long as the plan has been made, and at least one overt act towards the crime has been committed by at least one of the conspirators. For example, if a group plans on forging bank checks, and forges the checks but ultimately does not attempt to cash the checks, the group might still be charged with conspiracy due to the overt act of forgery. Thus, an accessory before the fact will often, but not always, also be considered a conspirator. A conspirator must have been a party to the planning of the crime, rather than merely becoming aware of the plan to commit it and then helping in some way.
A person who incites another to a crime will become a part of a conspiracy if agreement is reached, and may then be considered an accessory or a joint principal if the crime is eventually committed.
In the United States, a person who learns of the crime and gives some form of assistance before the crime is committed is known as an (accessory before the fact). A person who learns of the crime after it is committed and helps the criminal to conceal it, or aids the criminal in escaping, or simply fails to report the crime, is known as an (accessory after the fact) A person who does both is sometimes referred to as an (accessory before and after the fact), but this usage is less common.
In some jurisdictions, criminal ‘facilitation’ laws do not require that the primary crime be actually committed as a prerequisite for criminal liability. These include state statutes making it a crime to ‘provide’ a person with ‘means or opportunity’ to commit a crime,
Under the English common law, an accomplice is a person who actively participates in the commission of a crime, even if they take no part in the actual criminal offense. For example, in a bank robbery, the person who points the gun at the teller and demands the money is guilty of armed robbery. Anyone else directly involved in the commission of the crime, such as the lookout or the getaway car driver, is an accomplice, even if in the absence of an underlying offense keeping a lookout or driving a car would not be an offense.
An accomplice differs from an accessory in that an accomplice is present at the actual crime, and could be prosecuted even if the main criminal (the principal) is not charged or convicted. An accessory is generally not present at the actual crime, and may be subject to lesser penalties than an accomplice or principal.
At law, an accomplice has lesser guilt than the person he or she is assisting, is subject to lesser prosecution for the same crime, and faces the smaller criminal penalties. As such, the three accomplices to the bank robbery above can also to a degree be found guilty of armed robbery even if only one stole money.
The fairness of the doctrine that the accomplice is still guilty has been subject to much discussion, particularly in cases of capital crimes. Accomplices have been prosecuted for felony murder even if the actual person who committed the murder died at the crime scene or otherwise did not face capital punishment.
In jurisdictions based on the common law, the concept of an accomplice has often been heavily modified by statute, or replaced by new concepts entirely.