Accessory After the Fact in Florida

If accused of Accessory After the Fact to a felony, you need to know the:

Definition of Accessory After the Fact

Under Florida Statute 777.03, the crime of Accessory After the Fact is committed when a person maintains, assists, or aids an unrelated person known to have committed a felony, with the intent that the unrelated person avoid or escape detection, arrest, trial, or punishment for the felony. [1]

Related Person Exemption

A person cannot be charged as an Accessory After the Fact if they are the suspect's husband, wife, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, or sister by blood or marriage.

However, an uncle, aunt, or cousin could be charged as an Accessory After the Fact even though they are technically related to the suspect by blood or marriage.

Child Abuse Exception

Notwithstanding the Related Person Exemption, any person - related or unrelated - can be charged as an Accessory After the Fact if the underlying felony involved child abuse, child neglect, or a child's death.

Penalties for Accessory After the Fact

Accessory After the Fact is a derivative crime, meaning the applicable penalties are derived from the underlying felony committed.

As such, the penalties depend on whether the underlying felony was a:

Accessory After the Fact to a Third Degree Felony

The crime of Accessory After the Fact to a Third Degree Felony is classified as either a First Degree Misdemeanor or a Third Degree Felony depending on the offense level assigned by Florida's Criminal Punishment Code to the underlying felony offense.

Third Degree Felony: Level 1 and 2

The crime of Accessory After the Fact to a Third Degree Felony assigned a Level 1 or 2 offense severity ranking is classified as a First Degree Misdemeanor.

If convicted of Accessory After the Fact to a Third Degree Felony assigned a Level 1 or 2 offense severity ranking, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to one (1) year in jail.
  • Up to one (1) year of probation.
  • Up to $1,000 in fines.

Third Degree Felony: Level 3 or Higher

The crime of Accessory After the Fact to a Third Degree Felony assigned a Level 3 or higher offense severity ranking is classified as a Third Degree Felony.

If convicted of Accessory After the Fact to a Third Degree Felony assigned a Level 3 or higher offense severity ranking, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Up to five (5) years in prison.
  • Up to five (5) years of probation.
  • Up to $5,000 in fines.

Accessory After the Fact to a Second Degree Felony

The crime of Accessory After the Fact to a Second Degree Felony is classified as a Third Degree Felony and is assigned an offense severity ranking two levels below the offense level assigned by Florida's Criminal Punishment Code to the underlying felony offense.

If convicted of Accessory After the Fact to a Second Degree Felony, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties unless a mandatory minimum sentence is required under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code:

  • Up to five (5) years in prison.
  • Up to five (5) years of probation.
  • Up to $5,000 in fines.

Accessory After the Fact to a First Degree Felony

The crime of Accessory After the Fact to a First Degree Felony is classified as a Second Degree Felony and is assigned an offense severity ranking two levels below the offense level assigned by Florida's Criminal Punishment Code to the underlying felony offense.

If convicted of Accessory After the Fact to a First Degree Felony, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties unless a mandatory minimum sentence is required under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code:

  • Up to fifteen (15) years in prison.
  • Up to fifteen (15) years of probation.
  • Up to $10,000 in fines.

Accessory After the Fact to a Life Felony

The crime of Accessory After the Fact to a Life Felony is classified as a Second Degree Felony and is assigned an offense severity ranking two levels below the offense level assigned by Florida's Criminal Punishment Code to the underlying felony offense.

If convicted of Accessory After the Fact to a Life Felony, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties unless a mandatory minimum sentence is required under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code:

  • Up to fifteen (15) years in prison.
  • Up to fifteen (15) years of probation.
  • Up to $10,000 in fines.

Accessory After the Fact to a Capital Felony

The crime of Accessory After the Fact to a Capital Felony is classified as a First Degree Felony and is assigned an offense severity ranking two levels below the offense level assigned by Florida's Criminal Punishment Code to the underlying felony offense.

If convicted of Accessory After the Fact to a Capital Felony, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties unless a mandatory minimum sentence is required under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code:

  • Up to thirty (30) years in prison.
  • Up to thirty (30) years of probation.
  • Up to $10,000 in fines.

Defenses to Accessory After the Fact

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, specific defenses to the crime of Accessory After the Fact are:

Domestic Violence Victim

It is a defense to being charged as an Accessory After the Fact to the crimes of child abuse, neglect of a child, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child, or murder of a child if the court finds that the person accused of being an accessory was a victim of domestic violence. [2]

No Duty to Report

A person has no duty to report another person to law enforcement just because they suspect or know that the other person committed a felony.

As a result, living with someone known to have committed a felony, such as a roommate or domestic partner, does not cause that person to become an accessory to the roommate or domestic partner's crime. [3]

Refusal to Cooperate

It is a defense to the crime of Accessory After the Fact if a person's conduct was limited to merely disavowing knowledge or refusing to cooperate with an investigation. [4]

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of Accessory After the Fact in Central Florida or the Greater Orlando area, contact Criminal Defense Lawyer today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.

References

  1. Roberts v. State, 318 So. 2d 166, 167 (Fla. 2d DCA 1975)
  2. Florida Statute 777.03(1)(b)
  3. Holland v. State, 302 So. 2d 806 (Fla. 2d DCA 1974)
  4. Melahn v. State, 843 So. 2d 929, 930 (Fla. 5th DCA 2003)