We’re supposed to help out friends and loved ones when they’re in trouble. It’s one of those rules that we learn before we’re even in kindergarten. No matter what they do, we’re supposed to have their back.
But there’s a dark side to helping out loved ones when they’re in trouble that no one talks about. It’s the part where helping them after they’ve committed a crime means that a prosecutor in Tennessee can result in you being thrown in jail and having a felony record that will haunt you for the rest of your life.
A perfect example of this would be having a friend who has a little too much to drink, gets into an accident while driving home, and then comes to your home and begs you to let them stay there. As a good friend, you not only take them in but also deny knowing about the accident or their whereabouts when the police knock on your door. While this might seem like a normal act of friendship to you, if you get caught, you’ll quickly learn that the Tennessee legal system believes your action makes you an accessory after the fact and charges you with the crime.
How Serious is This
According to Tennessee lawmakers, anyone who knowingly provides shelter or aid to a person to protect them from arrest can be charged as an accessory after the fact. As soon as people learn that this could be a felony charge they panic. What few people realize is that Tennessee is famous for its wobbler laws: a charge that can be either a felony or a misdemeanor.
If found guilty after you’ve been charged on a misdemeanor count, you could be sentenced to one year in a county jail. If the prosecutor decides to hit you with a felony accessory after the fact charge, you’ll face up to three years in one of Tennessee’s state prisons. You’ll also be required to pay a $5,000 fine.
Types of Defense for Accessory After-the-Fact Charges
Over the years, individuals accused of accessory after the fact charges have been found not guilty by:
- You were under duress which is why you took steps to hide your friend from the authorities
- Mistaken identity
- You were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and didn’t do anything to hide your loved one
It’s worth noting that if you’re loved one is found not guilty of their crime, you can’t be found guilty of being an accessory after the fact.
If being a good friend results in you getting charged as an accessory after the fact, the best thing you can do is contact a good defense attorney. You should do this before you say anything to the police or any other law official.