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What is an Accomplice?

Updated on January 4, 2010

An accomplice is one who aids or participates in the commission of a crime. The term has no universally recognized definition in law, being used in various contexts as synonymous with "accessory", "aider and abettor", or "joint principal".

The word is most commonly used to describe the relationship of a witness to a defendant in criminal cases involving questions as to the weight or admissibility of evidence. For example, an accused cannot be convicted on the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice. In order to be an accomplice, a person must himself be liable to indictment for the same offense, according to the rule generally accepted by the weight of judicial authority.

The mere presence at, acquiescence in, or concealment of knowledge of the commission of a crime are not sufficient to make a person an accomplice.

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