Accessory Before The Fact Law and Legal Definition

Accessory before the fact refers to a person who aids, abets, counsels, commands or encourages the commission of a felony without actually being present at the scene. Such a person is also guilty of the crime. Accessory in criminal law is a person who, though not present at the commission of a crime, becomes a participator in the crime either before or after the fact of commission. Some states have abolished the common law distinction between principal and accessory before the fact, and the accessory before the fact is prosecuted as a principal. The penalties for being an accessory are usually much less severe than those meted out to the principal. Except where statutes provide differently, an accessory cannot be tried without his/her consent before the conviction of the principal, unless both are tried together.