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An accomplice is someone who aids and/or abets a crime committed by someone else (the principal). Most criminal defense lawyers will tell you that accomplices are just as liable – under the law – as the principal. They will also tell you, however, that accomplices often receive better plea offers from the prosecutor and – if it is within the judge’s discretion – better sentences after trial.

In fact, accomplice liability is far more complicated. For example, while liability (i.e., guilt) may be the same for accomplices and principals in most cases, this is not always true when it comes to punishment. (Many defense lawyers believe equal liability means equal punishment, but this is true only some of the time.) Furthermore, accomplices to certain crimes – such as "assault while aided by another person actually present "– may only be may only be guilty -- as a matter of law -- of less serious versions of the same crime. If you are charged as an accomplice, an experienced criminal defense lawyer should be able to explain the current law surrounding accomplice liability that might apply in your case.