Accessory Vs Conspiracy
If you are involved in the perpetration of a crime, you can can still be charged with committing an illegal act. Depending on the extent of your involvement, you can be accused of aiding and abetting, also called accessory, or the crime of conspiracy. Either way, this is a serious charge that you should not take lightly.
First, aiding and abetting means that you are do not actually participate in the main illegal act. Instead, you help with the perpetration of the crime. Of course, the main requirement of aiding and abetting is actually knowing that you are helping with a crime. For instance, if you sell a gun to a person who has the proper credentials, then this person uses the gun to kill someone else, you are not an accessory to murder. However, if you help someone acquire a gun illegally, knowing that the person wants to use it to shoot someone, you may be charged as an accessory.
Other types of aiding and abetting include:
Advising the perpetrator on how to commit the crime
Helping provide the person with tools or other items necessary to commit the crime
Providing financial aid to help with the illegal activity
Hiding the criminal or helping with his or her escape
On the other hand, conspiracy requires more overt participation in the planning or perpetration of a crime. With conspiracy, two or more individuals enter into an agreement to carry out an illegal act. With conspiracy, a prosecutor must only have evidence that two more more people have agreed to commit a crime. You may not have actually carried out the illegal act, but any steps towards perpetration will count against you.