Party to a Crime Defense

Party to a Crime Defense Lawyer
Serving Gwinnett County, Georgia

Party to a crime defense criminal lawyer in Gwinnett County Georgia

Believe it or not, many crimes are not carried out by a single person. Often, individuals rely on others to help in the commission of a crime. In Georgia, anyone who agrees to help someone commit a criminal offense is considered a party to a crime.

Under Georgia law, a party to a crime includes any person involved in the commission of a crime. This can include those who directly commit the crime, intentionally cause another person to commit the crime, aid or abet in the commission of the crime, or advise, encourage, hire, counsel, or procure another to commit the crime.

Being charged as a party to a crime can result in severe penalties, including the same charges and punishments as the primary offender. This means you could face significant fines, a felony record, and even lengthy prison sentences. In some cases, penalties for being a party to a crime can be harsher than those for the person who directly committed the crime.

At the Law Office of Adam D. Brown, we understand the complexities and serious implications of party to a crime charges. Our experienced attorney is dedicated to defending your rights and providing the expert legal counsel you need. Contact us today to discuss your case and learn how we can help protect your future.

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What does being “party to a crime” mean in Georgia?

You may have been charged with an offense that you personally did not commit. Oftentimes, people are charged with a crime as a party to the crime under OCGA § 16-2-20. Being party to a crime means that the government believes that you were “concerned in the commission of a crime,” which can occur by you:

  1. directly commit the crime;
  2. intentionally cause some other person to commit the crime;
  3. intentionally aids or abets in the crime; or
  4. intentionally advise, encourage, hire, counsel, or procure another to commit the crime.

Other states may classify Georgia’s offense of “party to a crime” as something along the lines of “accessory before the fact.”

Being present while a crime occurred is NOT ENOUGH for a conviction. Additionally, so long as your approval of the crime taking place does not rise to the level of encouragement, your approval of the crime taking place, by itself, is also NOT ENOUGH for a conviction. Bullard v. State, 263 Ga. 682, 685 (1993).

What Constitutes Participation in Georgia?

In Georgia, there is no strict standard for what constitutes participation in a crime, but precedent in case law provides guidance. Mere presence at the scene is not enough to convict someone as a party to a crime, as established in Hicks v. State, 211 Ga. App. 370 (1993). Instead, courts consider factors such as presence, companionship, and conduct before and after the crime to infer participation in the criminal intent. This approach was outlined in Kimbro v. State, 152 Ga. App. 893 (1980).

What Must be Proven to be Convicted of “Party to a Crime” in Georgia?

To convict someone of being a party to a crime in Georgia, the State must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This requires demonstrating that the defendant was involved in the commission of the crime in one of the following ways: directly committing the crime, intentionally causing another person to commit the crime, aiding or abetting in the crime, or advising, encouraging, hiring, counseling, or procuring another to commit the crime.

What is the Penalty for a Conviction of “Party to a Crime” in Georgia?

In Georgia, if convicted as a party to a crime, the defendant faces the same penalties as if they had committed the crime themselves. According to O.C.G.A. § 16-2-21, the punishment mirrors that of the substantive offense. For instance, if found guilty as a party to murder, the penalty will be the same as for committing murder directly. This underscores the severity of party to a crime charges, making it crucial to have skilled legal representation from the Law Office of Adam D. Brown.

What are Defenses to “Party to a Crime” Charges in Georgia?

  • No Proof of Criminal Intent: To convict someone as a party to a crime, there must be evidence of common criminal intent. Without proof of such intent, a conviction cannot stand.
  • Presence at the Scene of the Crime: Simply being present at the scene of the crime, even with knowledge and approval, is insufficient to establish that the defendant was a party to the crime. This principle was upheld in Smith v. State, 188 Ga. App. 415 (1988).
  • Approval Without Encouragement: Expressing approval of an action without encouraging it does not make one a party to the crime. In Moore v. State, 255 Ga. 519 (1986), and Parker v. State, 155 Ga. App. 617 (1980), the courts found that mere approval, without active encouragement, does not constitute being a party to a crime.

What are Not Defenses to “Party to a Crime” Charges?

  • Not the Actual Perpetrator: Being a participant rather than the actual perpetrator does not absolve one of guilt. In Lobdell v. State, 256 Ga. 769 (1987), the court ruled that both the defendant and the accomplice could be convicted of murder, regardless of who fired the gun during the robbery.
  • Non-Participation in the Offense: In conspiracy cases, an act by one co-defendant is considered an act by all. Each co-defendant is fully responsible for the actions taken in furtherance of the common purpose, as if each had personally committed the act.

Contact the Law Office of Adam D. Brown, LLC

Being charged with a crime or even “party to a crime” doesn’t mean your rights go out the window. At the Law Office of Adam D. Brown, LLC, we will work diligently to protect your rights, reputation, and freedom.

Our compassionate lawyer will analyze the details of your case and determine the best legal strategy for moving forward. We will be by your side throughout the entire process.

It is our goal to get your charges reduced or dropped so that you can get on with your life. Don’t go through this stressful time alone—we are here to help.

Contact the Law Office of Adam D. Brown, LLC today at (404) 883-8893 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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