If you have been charged with any crime, the best way to protect your rights is to retain a criminal defence lawyer.
When you imagine what is involved in committing a crime, normally you would picture the person committing the act directly. In the event of the robbery, you would imagine an armed individual barging into a corner store, gun raised, telling the clerk to empty the register into a sack. But what about the people who helped or encouraged this hypothetical criminal along the way. What about the friend he has waiting in a running car just across the street, what about the customer in the store angry about the price of the milk yelling, “Yeah you get him, that rip off artist!”, are these people also guilty of any crime? The answers respectively are yes and maybe, because of the concepts known as aiding and abetting.
Section 21 of the Criminal Code states:
21 (1) Everyone is a party to an offence who
(a) actually commits it;
(b) does or omits to do anything for the purpose of aiding any person to commit it; or
(c) abets any person in committing it.
In other words, you can be found guilty of an offence even if you yourself did not commit it, but you aided or abetted another party to commit a crime.
To aid someone in the commission of a crime is a more straightforward concept than to abet the commission of a crime. As the term implies, aiding involves assisting in the commission of the crime, such as a getaway driver. It should be noted that the assistance in the commission of the crime must be intentional. For example,if 5 kilometers from the crime scene the getaway car stalled and a friendly stranger assisted the fleeing criminals by giving them a boost. This stranger would not be guilty of aiding despite his actions helping them get away, because he was unaware and only unintentionally aided in the commission of the offence. Likewise, if at gun point a toll booth operator opened the gate and allowed the getaway car onto the highway, they would not be aiding in the commission of the crime.
Abetting in the commission of an offence means the party is instigating, promoting or procuring a crime. For example, causing a fight to be started, or cheering on a party committing a crime may amount to abetting, if it was a factor in the crime being committed. Merely being present and failing to stop a crime is usually not enough to count for aiding or abetting, there must generally be some action, so if you see a crime and do nothing, generally it does not amount to abetting the crime. An exception could be made where a party had a legal obligation to act (such as a parent to protect a child). Non-action may also count as aiding and abetting if an omission was intentional to assist the crime, such as a bribed security guard intentionally not looking at security cameras during a robbery.
If you have been charged with any crime, it can be a frightening prospect to have to face the legal process on your own. The safest course of action to protect yourself is to hire a criminal lawyer to protect your rights. Mehdi Au LLP has criminal defence lawyers on staff who can assist you with your case, we accept Legal Aid certificates from low income individuals.
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