Many people accused of aiding and abetting are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Some people do not even know what constitutes aiding and abetting. Minnesota law says that it is the act of providing a criminal with assistance, whether you helped them in the planning of a crime or you concealed the crime after it happened.
Many times, individuals accused of this crime had no idea that what they were doing could be considered aiding and abetting or the act occurred while they were present at the scene and they didn’t condone it at all.
For instance, you may have been having a night out with a friend when they decided to break into a store. You kept trying to tell your friend to stop, but he wouldn’t. When the police arrived, you were arrested too although you were not doing anything. Just because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time made it look as if you were providing assistance.
Another example is when a person is convinced to not report a crime that was committed by someone close to them. Perhaps this convincing involved lines such as, “they will think you had something to do with it and you will never get to see your kids or family again.” By not going ahead and reporting the crime, you could be accused of aiding and abetting and then you could face consequences that interfere with your life.
A person can also be charged with aiding and abetting if they do not report crimes against children.
For example, a Minneapolis teacher who notices that a child is displaying the signs of child abuse is obligated to report the abuse. This is a legal obligation that is designed to protect the child. If the teacher doesn’t report the abuse and it is found that he or she recognized the abuse and did nothing, she could be charged with aiding and abetting. While this doesn’t necessary constitute being in the wrong place at the wrong time, it is a good example of when a person is required to report a crime. Doctors, nurses, and other parents are subject to this requirement as well.
A person is in the wrong place at the wrong time if a family member comes to their home after committing a crime and then the police arrive. If the family member hiding from the authorities tells you to tell them that they are not there, it is best to go ahead and tell them. While you did not ask to be put in such a compromising position, you do not want to have an aiding and abetting charge filed against you either.
Withholding information from authorities also constitutes aiding and abetting, but it is possible that you may not immediately recollect the information that they are seeking. Sometimes when a person is under pressure, they may not remember important information until later. However, withholding where someone they are looking for is located will constitute the charge.
If you have been charged with aiding and abetting, whether you were in the wrong place at the wrong time or not, you have the right to defend yourself.