Accessories and Principals in Oklahoma Criminal Law

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How Oklahoma Accessories and Principals are defined in Oklahoma Criminal law.

Under Oklahoma criminal law there are only 2 parties to a crime; principals and accessories. (See Title 21 O.S. Section 171)

Definition of Principal Under Oklahoma Law

In Oklahoma a principal to a crime is defined very broadly as "All persons concerned in the commission of crime, whether it be felony or misdemeanor, and whether they directly commit the act constituting the offense, or aid and abet in its commission, though not present, are principals." (See Title 21 O.S. Section 172)

Definition of Accessory Under Oklahoma Law

Oklahoma defines and accessory as "All persons who, after the commission of any felony, conceal or aid the offender, with knowledge that he has committed a felony, and with intent that he may avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment, are accessories." (See Title 21 O.S. Section 173)

Common Misconceptions Regarding Accessory Law in Oklahoma

If I am not directly involved in the commission of a crime than I can not be considered a principal to a crime

Most people wrongfully assume that if they were not directly involved in the commission of a crime, that they are not legally be considered a "principal" to that crime. That is NOT true. Look at the definition to a principal closely; "All persons concerned in the commission of crime, whether it be felony or misdemeanor, and whether they directly commit the act constituting the offense, or aid and abet in its commission, though not present, are principals."

In Oklahoma a person can be considered a principle to a crime simply by aiding in its commission even if they were not present when it was committed. This is very broad language. Many defendants find themselves in trouble because they did not understand this principal before getting involved in a bad situation or they are involved in a bad situation and did not understand this principal before making a statement to the police. (If you are suspected of a crime contact a criminal attorney immediately. If suspected of a crime you may also want to read 10 Things Everyone Suspected of a Crime Should Know.)

Here are some fictional examples of behavior that could lead to someone being a principal in a crime.

  • Person A knows that Person B intends on robbing a bank, Person A agrees to drive Person B to the location of the bank and drop them off. Person A is not a get away driver, Person A just drops them off and leaves. Person A would be a principal.
  • Person A knows Person B intends on robbing a bank, Person A loans Person B his gun and has no other involvement. Person A would be a principal.
  • Person A knows Person B wants to commit a drive by shooting and agrees to loan Person B his car knowing that Person B will use the car to commit the drive by shooting. Person A would be a principal.

If I only assist in a crime and do not directly commit the crime than I will only be considered an accessory

Under Oklahoma law the only one considered an accessory is one that acts after the fact. This can be seen in the first line of the statute defining an accessory, "All persons who, AFTER THE COMMISSION OF ANY FELONY, conceal or aid the offender..."

Anyone that aids or assist in the commission of a crime can be considered a principal under Oklahoma Law.

Punishment for Being an Accessory in Oklahoma


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