Key Difference – Accomplice vs Conspirator
Accomplice and conspirator are two legal terms that refer to people who have helped to commit a crime. Accomplice is defined as a person who assists in a crime willingly or knowingly whereas conspirator is defined as a person who enters into a plot with one or more other people to commit an illegal act. This is the key difference between accomplice and conspirator.
Who is an Accomplice?
An accomplice is a person who assists in a crime knowingly and voluntarily. Let’s take a brief look at the definitions of this term to understand it better.
“One who knowingly, voluntarily, or intentionally, and with common intent and criminal purpose shared with the principal offender, solicits or encourages another to commit a crime or assists or attempts to assist in its planning and execution.” – Webster’s New World Law Dictionary
“A person who participates in a crime, either by accession or as a perpetrator, before or after the fact, by committing, procuring or aiding and abetting. Some degree of guilty knowledge is necessary.” – Collins dictionary of law
As seen from these definitions, an accomplice does not necessarily have to assist in a crime; encouraging, or knowing about the crime beforehand can make a person an accomplice of a crime. An accomplice may not be present at the scene of the crime, but he is still guilty of the crime. For example, suppose the watchman of bank purposefully deactivates the security system for robbers to enter the bank. Although this man may not be present at the scene of the crime, he is an accomplice since he is also guilty of the crime. Therefore, an accomplice may share the same charge and punishment as the principal criminal.
Who is a Conspirator?
It is important to know the meaning of the word conspiracy before understanding the meaning of conspirator. A conspiracy occurs when two or more parties knowingly agree to commit a criminal act. Each party of this conspiracy is called a co-conspiracy. A person can be charged with conspiracy and the execution of the actual crime. Let us now look at a definition of conspirator.
“A person or entity who enters into a plot with one or more other people or entities to commit illegal acts, legal acts with an illegal object, or using illegal methods, to the harm of others.” – Burton’s Legal Thesaurus
A person can be charged with conspiracy even if the actual crime is not committed. Let’s look at the example of the bank robbery again – if you are caught before the robbery, with all evidence of their plan, they can be charged with conspiracy. Even if you hire someone to commit a crime for you, you can be charged with conspiracy.
What is the difference between Accomplice and Conspirator?
Accomplice: Accomplice is a person who assists, attempts to assists, or encourages a crime willingly and knowingly.
Conspirator: Conspirator is a person who enters into a plot with one or more other people to commit an illegal act.
Accomplice: One person may distract people or security until his partner commits the crime. Although he did not directly commit the crime, he is guilty of the crime.
Conspirator: A person may hire someone to commit a crime. Although he doesn’t commit the actual crime, he is directly responsible for the crime.
Before the Crime:
Accomplice: A person can be charged as an accomplice after committing an actual crime.
Conspirator: A person can be charged with conspiracy before committing the actual crime.
“Conspiracy” (CC BY-SA 3.0) via The Blue Diamond Gallery