Accomplice Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Accomplice, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Accomplice?

n. someone party in a crime. Someone who has not committed, yet is involved in some way concerned in the commission of a crime.

History and Meaning of Accomplice

The term "accomplice" originated from the Latin words "com-" which means "with" and "plicare" which means "to fold". The term literally means "one who folds together with another". In legal terms, an accomplice is someone who assists, aids or encourages another person in committing a crime, but does not actually commit the crime itself.

In order to be charged as an accomplice, the person must have knowledge of the crime being committed, and must intend to help the principal perpetrator. The level of involvement can vary, from merely being present at the scene of the crime to actively participating in planning and executing the crime.

Examples of Accomplice

  1. Bob agrees to distract the store clerk while his friend steals money from the cash register. Bob is an accomplice to the theft.
  2. Alice helps her boyfriend dispose of evidence after he murdered someone. Alice is an accomplice to murder.
  3. John drives the getaway car after his friend robs a bank. John is an accomplice to robbery.

Legal Terms Similar to Accomplice

  1. Principal: The person who commits the crime.
  2. Accessory: Someone who aids or abets the principal after the crime has been committed.
  3. Co-conspirator: Someone who conspires with the principal to commit a crime.