Mississippi law provides that a person can be charged with “accessory after the fact” if he helps a person avoid arrest, trial or conviction for committing a felony. According to Mississippi Code Section 97-1-5,
Every person who shall be convicted of having concealed, received, or relieved any felon, or having aided or assisted any felon, knowing that such person had committed a felony, with intent to enable such felon to escape, or to avoid arrest, trial, conviction or punishment, after the commission of such felony, on conviction thereof shall be imprisoned in the penitentiary not exceeding five years.
Following are some important things to remember about accessory after the fact in Mississippi:
(1) The State must prove that the defendant knew that the person he aided committed a felony, and that the defendant intended to help the person escape or avoid capture and prosecution;
(2) Even if the defendant intended to help the felon avoid arrest, the State must prove that whatever efforts the defendant made to help the felon actually assisted him. In other words, if the defendant gave some assistance or aid to the felon, yet this aid did not actually help him, then the defendant is not guilty of accessory after the fact in Mississippi. White v. State, 851 So.2d 400 (2003);
(3) Under Mississippi criminal law, a person can not be convicted of both actually committing the crime, and as an accessory after the fact; and
(4) The help given to the felon must have been given after the crime was committed, rather than before. If the assistance was given before the crime was completed, then the person giving the assistance is guilty of accessory before the fact and is a principal to the crime;
Whether or not the defendant is guilty of accessory after the fact will depend on the specific facts of each case. These cases are often difficult for the State to prove, and can be quite easily defended. If you have been charged with accessory after the fact or questioned by the police about this crime, you should take immediate action to protect your rights. For a free consultation, please contact me at 601.944.1984, or visit my Mississippi criminal defense website for more information.