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.
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.