Accessory After the Fact Law and Legal Definition

Whoever, knowing that an offense has been committed, receives, relieves, comforts or assists any offender in order to hinder or prevent his or her apprehension, trial or punishment, is called an accessory after the fact. An accessory after the fact is often not considered an accomplice but is treated as a separate offender. Punishment for an accessory after the fact is universally less than that for the principal offender.

Example of a piece of Federal legislation defining the term.

18 USCS § 3

§ 3. Accessory after the fact

Whoever, knowing that an offense against the United States has been committed, receives, relieves, comforts or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension, trial or punishment, is an accessory after the fact.

Except as otherwise expressly provided by any Act of Congress, an accessory after the fact shall be imprisoned not more than one-half the maximum term of imprisonment or (notwithstanding section 3571 [18 USCS § 3571]) fined not more than one-half the maximum fine prescribed for the punishment of the principal, or both; or if the principal is punishable by life imprisonment or death, the accessory shall be imprisoned not more than 15 years.

An accessory after the fact is defined as follows: Access after the fact is a person who with knowledge of the other person['s] guilt gives assistance to a felon in an effort to hinder the felon['s] detection, arrest, trial or punishment. Morgan v. Lafler, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93580 ( E.D. Mich. Oct. 7, 2009)