Accessory Before the Fact
Definition - What does Accessory Before the Fact mean?
An accessory before the fact refers to a person who helps with the carrying out of a crime before the crime actually happens. As opposed to the person who actually commits the crime, an accessory before the fact is a person who makes committing the crime easier for the person committing the crime by doing something to help before the crime occurs.
Justipedia explains Accessory Before the Fact
In general, a person who is convicted for being an accessory before the fact will not be punished quite as severely as the person who actually commits the crime. However, this is not always the case. Depending on the crime, an accessory before the fact can be found to be just as culpable as the person who commits the crime. For example, if an accessory before the fact provides another person with a gun while knowing that the other person will use the gun to illegally kill somebody, the accessory before the fact can serve a life sentence for murder for knowingly providing somebody with a weapon that they knew the other person would use to illegally kill somebody.