Fundamentals of Criminal Law by Adam J. McKee

The common law idea (and most former state penal codes) of accessories to crimes has been abolished, for example, in the Arkansas Code.  Under the present code, what was an accessory before the fact is now an accomplice.  Perpetrators who were considered accessories after the fact under former law are now guilty of a separate crime under §5-54-105, “hindering the apprehension and prosecution.”


(a) A person commits an offense under this section if, with purpose to hinder the apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of another for an offense, he:

(1) Harbors or conceals the person; or

(2) Provides or aids in providing the person with a weapon, money, transportation, disguise, or other means of avoiding apprehension, discovery, or effecting escape; or

(3) Prevents or obstructs anyone from performing an act which might aid in the discovery, apprehension, or identification of the person by means of force, intimidation, or the threat of such, or by means of deception; or

(4) Conceals, alters, destroys, or otherwise suppresses the discovery of any fact, information, or other thing related to the crime which might aid in the discovery, apprehension, or identification of the person; or

(5) Warns the person of impending discovery, apprehension, or identification; or

(6) Volunteers false information to a law enforcement officer; or

(7) Purposefully lies or attempts to purposefully provide erroneous information, documents or other instrumentalities which he knows to be false to a certified law enforcement officer that would distract from the true course of the investigation or inhibit the logical or orderly progress of the investigation.

A.C.A. § 5-54-105. Hindering apprehension or prosecution

Model Penal Code

The Model Penal Code views accessory after the fact as obstruction of justice and does not require that the person providing assistance be aware that the alleged offender actually committed a crime. The essence of the crime is interference with the functioning of the legal process. An individual charged with accessory after the fact is thus not treated as a principal. Liability extends to assisting an individual to avoid apprehension for a misdemeanor as well as a felony. The Model Penal Code specifies the type of assistance that is prohibited to prevent courts from too narrowly or too broadly interpreting the behavior that is prohibited.

Key Terms

Accessories, accessories after the fact, accessories before the fact, accomplices, derivative liability, mere presence rule, natural and probable consequences, parties to a crime, principals in the first degree, principals in the second degree

References and Further Reading

Vicarious Liability.” Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice.

Accomplices.” Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice.



United States v Peoni, 100 F2d 401, 402 (2d Cir 1938).  

Standefer v. U.S., 447 U.S. 10 (1980).  

Modification History

File Created:  07/12/2018

Last Modified:  09/12/2023

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This work is licensed under an Open Educational Resource-Quality Master Source (OER-QMS) License.

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