Aiding vs Abetting vs Conspiracy
Aiding, Abetting and Conspiracy are terms used in ascertaining the degree of liability of persons in a court of law in respect of a crime that has been committed. Prosecutors use these words to expand the scope and severity of a crime to include more persons than were originally named as being involved in the crime. As per law, aiding and abetting generally mean to somehow assist in commission of crime, or to be an accomplice. For example, driving a car to help a criminal escape from the scene of crime or to keep watch while crime is being committed come under aiding and abetting.
A charge of conspiracy can be made even if actual crime has not been committed or carried out. If a plan has been made an at least one act towards crime has been committed, person or persons involved in hatching the plan can be held for conspiracy.
Aiding and abetting are normally used together for a person or persons who actually do not commit a crime but incite or direct another person or persons to commit the crime. The term abettor has in recent times given way to accomplice. An accomplice is a person who actively takes par in a crime even though he may not commit the crime. For example, in the case of a bank robbery, even though a person who does not point a gun or loot the cash but merely keeps a watch and readies the car to escape from the scene of crime is held guilty of crime and is termed as an accomplice or having committed abetting. Another term that is in vogue is that of an accessory. Whereas abettor is usually present at the scene of crime, an accessory is not there and is generally subject to lesser penalties. Abetting is a term that is not used in the US nowadays and has given way to accomplice.
All three, aiding, abetting and conspiracy are punishable in a court of law. It is the prosecutor who has to decide and prove in the court whether a person aided, abetted or was a conspirator in a crime. Conspirator is a person who makes a plan and uses other person or persons to carry out the crime.
It must be remembered that aiding, abetting and conspiracy are not crimes in themselves but are punishable by a court of law. Persons falling under these three categories come to light when the criminal talks about his accomplices in the court. There have been umpteen cases in which the criminal died at the scene of crime but later investigations paved the way for prosecution of those who were involved in aiding, abetting and even the conspirating.