What Does Party to a Crime Mean?

What Does Party to a Crime Mean?

OCGA Party to a Crime Meaning

Believe it or not, many crimes are not carried out by a single person. These individuals tend to rely on others to help in the commission of a crime, meaning anyone who agrees to help someone commit an offense will be a party to a crime. In Georgia, a party to a crime is defined as every person concerned in the commission of a crime. A person is considered “concerned in the commission of a crime” only if they:

  • Directly commits the crime
  • Intentionally causes another person to commit the crime under circumstances in which the other person is not guilty of any crime because of fact or legal incapacity
  • Intentionally aids or abets in the commission of the crime
  • Intentionally advises, encourages, hires, counsels, or procures another to commit the crime

For example, let’s say your sibling’s partner cheated on them. Angry and devasted, your sibling asks you to help them confront their ex and get answers as to why the partner cheated. Although you don’t want to get too involved in the matter, you agree to accompany your sibling and be there for support as they confront their ex. You drive to the house and both of you knock on the door. When the ex opens the door, your sibling ditches the communication and decides to get physical with their ex-partner. You didn’t expect your sibling to start a physical fight, but you support them, nonetheless.

Your sibling punches and kicks their ex, throws sharp objects at them, and threatens to kill them. You cheer your sibling on and encourage them to hit harder, throw heavier objects, and get rowdier. Once you and your sibling think the ex has had enough, you realize the partner is limp and unresponsive, prompting you both to leave the scene. Later, you and your sibling are slapped with aggravated assault and aggravated battery charges as a result — the ex-partner survived but suffered a serious coma.

But how could that be? You didn’t even lay a finger on the ex!

Although you didn’t get physically involved in the incident between your sibling and their ex, you are a party to the crime because you intentionally encouraged them to commit the aggravated assault and battery. Not to mention, you drove your sibling to the house, so you technically aided and abetted the crime as while.

As such, you will get the same felony charges and face the same penalties as your sibling, regardless of your level of involvement in the commission of the crime. That being said, you could go to prison for up to 20 years.

An interesting and often controversial subject is that a person who is convicted for being a party to a crime may suffer harsher penalties than the person who directly committed the crime. In Georgia, any party to a crime who did not directly commit the crime may be indicted, tried, convicted, and punished for the crime, even if the person suspected of DIRECTLY committing the crime has not been prosecuted or convicted, is convicted of a different crime or degree of crime, is not brought to justice, or is acquitted.

In other words, a party to a crime could be punished harder than a person who actually committed the crime.

As such, you may want to think twice before encouraging your peers to “get up to no good” or helping them break the law. If your friend asks you to hold onto their drugs while they’re on vacation, say no. If your coworker asks you to “cover-up” for them while they’re stealing money from the cash register, say no. If your cousin asks you to drive them to a mall so they can shoplift, say no. The risks are simply not worth taking.

Arrested? We’ve Got Your Back.

Many times, people don’t realize they’re parties to a crime until it’s too late. For instance, your friend may ask you to drive them to the store so they can “pick up their prescription,” or so you think. You wait for them in the car, and they come out of the store with a bag full of items. As you drive back home, you ask, “I thought you were just picking up your medicine?” Your friend admits that they shoplifted some items as well. Since you were the driver, you may be accused of being a party to a crime.

No matter how you ended up with your criminal charges, know that our attorneys are ready to fight for you. To discuss your situation and begin your defense, contact us at (866) 580-3089!