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New York Penal Law 115.08: Criminal facilitation in the first degree

By Spodek Law Group | May 4, 2017
(Last Updated On: July 26, 2023)

Last Updated on: 26th July 2023, 08:56 pm

In New York, it’s a crime to help someone commit a crime. This is true even if you don’t commit the crime yourself. Helping someone commit a crime is called criminal facilitation. Some people also refer to this offense as being an accessory to crime.

The crimes are divided by degrees

There are four different degrees of criminal facilitation. First degree is the most serious of the offenses while fourth degree is the least serious. What charge you face depends on the specifics of the circumstances involved with your actions. The law considers how old you are, the age of the person that you helped commit a crime and the offense that you helped the person commit.

First degree criminal facilitation

The most serious of the criminal facilitation charges is facilitation in the first degree. It’s New York penal law § 115.08. To face a first-degree criminal facilitation charge, you must be over the age of eighteen. The person you help commit a crime must be under the age of sixteen.

The crime must be a class A felony. Class A felonies are the most serious offenses in New York. That means, to commit first-degree criminal facilitation, you must be an adult that helps a child commit a very serious offense. Some examples of class A offenses are arson in the first degree, murder in the first degree and large-scale drug trafficking.

An example

Manuel and Miguel are cousins. Manuel is fifteen years old, and Miguel is twenty-two years old. One day, Manuel and Miguel meet to play basketball.

Manuel discloses that a boy at school stole his backpack. Manuel is angry with this boy. Miguel says that they can get revenge. They make a plan, and Miguel drives Manuel to the boy’s location. Miguel then uses a firearm to shoot the boy.

In this case, Miguel can face charges of criminal facilitation in the first degree. Miguel is over the age of eighteen. The person that he helps is under the age of fifteen. The crime Miguel helps Manuel commit is a class A felony. These are all of the necessary elements for a charge of criminal facilitation in the first degree.


Criminal facilitation in the first degree is the most serious of the four facilitation offenses, so it carries the harshest penalties. If you’re convicted as charged, the court can sentence you to up to twenty-five years in prison. You can expect to spend several years under court supervision after your release from prison. You also have to pay a significant fine. If you’re facing the charge of criminal facilitation in the first degree, it’s important to speak with an NYC criminal attorney about your options.


There are a few common defenses to the crime of facilitation in the first degree. One defense is that no one involved actually committed a crime. You can’t help another person commit a crime if the crime doesn’t occur.

In addition, duress is a common defense to the charge of facilitation. Duress means that you didn’t act freely and willfully. If someone else threatens you into helping someone else commit a crime, you aren’t legally guilty of facilitating a crime.

In the above scenario, an example of duress is if Manuel tells Miguel that he has to drive him to commit the crime. When Miguel refuses, Manuel pulls out a weapon and points it at Miguel. Miguel feels that he has no choice but to drive Manuel to commit the crime. Under this circumstance, Miguel can assert the defense of duress.

New York Penal Law 115.05: Criminal facilitation in the second degree

Aiding in a crime can make one just as guilty as the person who actually committed the crime, and this is called criminal facilitation. There are four degrees of criminal facilitation that one can be charged with, and different factors that determine which degree is suitable for the crime. The facilitator’s age, the age of the person who committed the crime, and the type of crime, will all determine the degree of the crime. One who assists another person in committing a class A felony can be charged with criminal facilitation in the second degree, and should seek legal representation.

A class A felony would include drug trafficking, murder or arson. The lawyer would have to prove that the accused facilitator had no knowledge that they were involved in the crime, or that the other person was committing any type of crime. The lawyer could also put together a defense, stating that the accused had to facilitate because they were in fear of their own life, and they were in fear and threatened by the person that committed the crimes. Proof of physical or mental force, or threats would be needed. These would be the two strongest defense tactics for getting the charges dropped.

If charged with criminal facilitation in the second degree, one could be sentenced up to 15 years in prison, get 5 years of probation once out of prison, and could have to pay other types of fees. Having this conviction and a felony on a criminal record can cause lifelong problems. It can be difficult to get a job with this type of conviction, and some employment fields and industries won’t allow someone with a felony, or this type of crime, to work. The specifics of the crime and the age of the accused can determine how long this is on one’s personal record, and how it affects the rest of their life.

It’s important not talk with anyone that is taking statements in the case, and to get a lawyer for representation as soon as you are notified of the pending charges. If a family member has been arrested and is facing these charges, contacting a criminal lawyer on their behalf if something that needs to be done immediately. Gathering evidence and getting to the bottom of the case will be the lawyer’s number one concern, and the accused needs to stop communication with anyone, and stop doing anything that can harm their case.

The outcome of the case involving the person that the accused was facilitating will have no result on the accused case. Facilitation charges could still be charged. If the accused has no previous criminal charges or behavioral concerns, it may be possible for the criminal lawyer to work out a plea deal with the judge and the prosecution in the case. If the accused is in fear of their life, and could be in danger by speaking out or testifying against the person that they were allegedly facilitating, a protective scenario may be granted. A NYC criminal lawyer with experience working a criminal facilitation in the second degree charges will go through the evidence and the facts to find out what the best defense will be, and to find out how to fight the charges or work out the best plea deal.

New York Penal Law 115.01: Criminal facilitation in the third degree

In New York, it’s illegal to commit a crime. It’s also illegal to help someone commit a crime. Criminal facilitation in the third degree is a violation of New York Penal Law 115.01.

Helping someone commit a crime is called criminal facilitation. You also might think of it as being an accessory to a crime. Not only is it illegal to commit crimes in New York, it’s also illegal to help someone else commit a crime.

An example

In one example, Matt wants to buy heroin. He asks his friend Pat if he knows anyone that sells heroin. Pat contacts his friend Peter. Pat gives Peter’s number to Matt. Peter and Matt meet and make the sale.

In this case, Pat has committed criminal facilitation. He helped Matt commit the crime of possessing heroin. He also helped Peter sell heroin. Pat can face charges for his actions in helping facilitate the crime.

Degrees of the offense

New York law divides the crime of facilitation into four different degrees. The degrees take a number of things into account when determining the seriousness of the offense. These things include your age, the age of the person you help and the crime that the person ultimately commits.

Facilitation in the first degree is the most serious of the facilitation offenses. Fourth-degree facilitation is the least serious of the facilitation charges, and third-degree facilitation is slightly more serious than fourth-degree solicitation. To constitute facilitation in the third degree, you must be at least eighteen years old.

In addition, you must believe that it’s likely that the person that you are helping is under sixteen. The person you help must intend to commit a felony. You must give the person the aid and the means to commit the felony. The person you help must actually go on to commit the felony.

Potential penalties

If you’re convicted of criminal facilitation in the third degree, you’ve committed a class E felony. The maximum prison sentence is four years in prison. The court can also place you on probation for another five years. You can also pay a substantial fine. Because of the seriousness of the offense, it’s important to meet with a team of NYC criminal attorneys to discuss all of your available defenses.


At Spodek Law Group, we help people who are charged with criminal facilitation prepare an aggressive defense to the full extent of the law. One common defense to the charge of criminal facilitation in the third degree is that you are not over eighteen years old. You can also defend the charge on the grounds that the person you help is over the age of sixteen.

You can also tell the jury that no person involved ever committed a crime. If no felony occurs, criminal facilitation in the third degree can’t occur. You can also attack the allegation that you did something to help the person commit a crime. If you didn’t do anything to facilitate the person’s crime, you’re not guilty of the charge.

Your attorney can also help you explore possible pretrial motions that can help you defend yourself against the charges. The police have to collect evidence in lawful ways. If they violate your constitutional rights to gather evidence against you, you can ask the court to throw out that evidence. The police need to read you Miranda rights before they perform a custodial interrogation. If they fail to comply with the law when they build their case, the result can be that the court throws out the evidence against you.

New York Penal Law 115.00: Criminal facilitation in the fourth degree

The New York Penal Code describes criminal facilitation in the fourth degree as occurring whenever someone helps another person a crime. According to the New York Penal Code, there are four different variations of criminal facilitation, with criminal facilitation in the fourth degree being considered the least severe. There are two factors that determine whether someone has specifically committed criminal facilitation in the fourth degree. The first factor is whether a person believes that they are helping another person commit a crime. The second factor is whether the person being helped is under the age of 16. If the facilitator is over 18 years old, and the person they are helping is under 16, then the facilitator can be charged with criminal facilitation in the fourth degree.

Examples of Criminal Facilitation in the Fourth Degree

When a person knowingly helps a person commit a crime, by providing them with the means to do so, then it is criminal facilitation in the fourth degree. For instance, if the facilitator drives another person to a location to buy drugs, then the facilitator could be charged in the fourth degree. It’s also worth remembering that if a person is underage when they commit a crime, then a facilitator could also be charged in the fourth degree.

There are many ways in which a person could indirectly help another to commit a crime. If a person gives someone a ride, knowing full well that the person intends to do something illegal upon arrival, then that could be considered criminal facilitation in the fourth degree. In addition, helping underage people to break the law is also one of the most direct ways to be charged with criminal facilitation in the fourth degree.

Defending Against Criminal Facilitation in the Fourth Degree

One of the strongest defenses against this charge is to prove that the facilitator was coerced into helping the unlawful party. This is referred to as a valid duress defense and can offer protection to those who were forced into helping the commission of a crime. If NYC Criminal lawyers can prove that their defendant was not acting of their own accord, then they can potentially get these charges dropped.

Aside from a valid duress defense, the other main defense is to question the prosecutor’s evidence. It is not enough for the person who committed the crime to simply claim that they had helped. There must be evidence beyond this testimony that links the person who committed the crime with the facilitator. If that testimony is the only valid evidence that the prosecutor has, then they cannot pursue these charges.

Sentencing for Criminal Facilitation in the Fourth Degree

Since criminal facilitation in the fourth degree is considered a class A misdemeanor, sentencing can involve up to a year of jail time for someone found guilty. In addition to this jail time, someone found guilty could also potentially be forced into probation for up to three years, as well as forced to pay a hefty fine.

Despite not being a felony, criminal facilitation in the fourth degree still carries the possibility of jail time. With that in mind, anyone who is facing these charges should seriously consider contacting knowledgeable legal representatives to handle their case, so that they have the best chance of developing a strong defense.

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