Back to the Glossary
Accessory Before the Fact:
A person who aids, abets, or
encourages another person to commit a crime, but who is not present at
the scene when the crime takes place.
Many jurisdictions consider a person who is an accessory before the fact to be an accomplice.
At common law, "in felony cases, parties to a crime were divided into four distinct categories: (1) principals in the first degree who actually perpetrated the offense; (2) principals in the second degree who were actually or constructively present at the scene of the crime and aided or abetted its commission; (3) accessories before the fact who aided or abetted the crime, but were not present at its commission; and (4) accessories after the fact who rendered assistance after the crime was complete."
~STANDEFER v. UNITED STATES, 447 U.S. 10 (1980)
See also Accessory After the Fact