We all want to help a loved one who gets into trouble with the law, but you need to be careful about how you do it. Otherwise, you may be in trouble too.
An accessory to felony charge in Tulsa, Oklahoma can mean years in prison.
An Accessory to a Crime
In Oklahoma, it is illegal to conceal or aid an offender. In essence, doing so makes you an “accessory” under the law. And that can mean trouble.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a party to a crime can either be a principal or an accessory. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 171
A principal is defined as one who is concerned in the commission of a crime, whether acting directly or indirectly in its commission. Okla. Stat. 21 § 172
In contrast, an accessory is someone who after the commission of the crime conceals or aids the offender, knowing that the offender has committed a felony. This is done by the accessory to felony with the intent to help the offender avoid or escape arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 173
Knowing that the offender committed the crime is a key element in this statute. The prosecutor must prove that you concealed or aided the offender knowing the crime that was committed. This element can be hard to prove and is important to your defense.
What is an Accessory to Felony?
An accessory to felony is always involved in helping an offender of a crime that is chargeable as a felony. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 174
That means that if you help a friend out by hiding them after they have committed a misdemeanor offense, you cannot be convicted of being an accessory.
Here is an example.
James is a 19-year-old with a drug habit. He robs a house and steals some jewelry, which he sells to get money to pay for more drugs. The robbery is a felony in Oklahoma.
He is high when he gets home and his dad is worried about him. James tells his dad what he did and asks his dad to not tell the police anything if they come to investigate.
His dad agrees and hides the crime from the police when they come to the house. James’ dad is now an accessory to felony.
Penalties for Being an Accessory to Felony are Complicated and Harsh
The penalty for being an accessory is directly related to the felony involved, and it can be harsh.
If the underlying felony is one that is punishable by a prison term of four years or more, an accessory could be sentenced for up to half the maximum penalty allowed for that felony.
If the felony crime is punishable by less than four years in prison, you could face up a 1 year in the county jail. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 175
If the underlying felony is punishable only by a fine, then the accessory may be fined up to half that amount.
If the felony is subject to both a fine and a jail sentence, an accessory could end up paying half the fine and serve half of the longest prison term that could be imposed for that felony.
Finally, being convicted as an accessory to murder carries a particularly harsh punishment.
If the underlying offense is murder in the first degree, an accessory must serve between 5 and 45 years in prison.
If the underlying offense if murder in the second degree, an accessory will serve between 5 and 25 years in prison.
Free Consultation with a Tulsa Criminal Defense Attorney
What started out as a helpful gesture to a loved one in trouble can end up as a nightmare. Don’t try to navigate this nightmare alone.
Make sure that you and your attorney work hard to preserve your freedom. Small facts may make a big difference in your defense and mean the difference between freedom and jail.
Our initial consultation is free. Call Wirth Law Office – Tulsa at 918-879-1681 or toll free at 1-888-Wirth-Law (1-888-947-8452) or submit the question form at the top right of this page.