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What is Guilt by Association?

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Posted By McAdams Law | October 12 2023 | Blog, Criminal Defense, Felonies

Most everyone knows of someone who has committed a crime. But knowing this individual, even when a close relationship exists, does not make you guilty of a crime. A false notion often exists that because someone knows an individual who commits illegal activity, that person must also commit the same acts.

Guilt by association results from knowing someone or being involved with someone who has performed an illegal action, whether you participated in the act or not. Being charged with a crime requires solid evidence that you were involved in illegal activities, and seeking the help of a Colorado criminal defense attorney can make the difference in a case being dismissed due to association fallacy or being convicted of accessory.

The Consequences of Guilt by Association

The law does not allow convicting a person of a crime simply for knowing someone or affiliating with an individual known for illegal activity, which is considered an association fallacy. So when can association lead to legal consequences?

For example, a friend asks to park a car in your garage to work on it out of the weather, leaving it there for some time. Later, this friend is arrested for the crime of hit and run, and you only become aware after he was arrested for a crime. In comparison, a friend asks to park a car in your garage because law enforcement may be looking for it after an incident occurs, and you decide it can’t hurt to have the vehicle in your garage because you played no part in the incident.

Allowing this action with the knowledge that a crime was committed can lead to charges of accessory to a crime. The difference in the two scenarios above is an act committed knowingly. Having no knowledge that a crime involving the vehicle had been committed, having an automobile parked in your garage is not a crime but often leads to guilt by association.

Being an Accessory is a Crime

An individual becomes an accessory when assisting someone committing an offense by preventing or hindering the discovery of a person or their acts. When you are accused of a crime because of association, evidence must exist of actual involvement to be prosecuted. If you only know the person, then no crime has been committed.

Request Legal Representation

Unfortunately, the legal system is not infallible, and guilt by association is based on the association fallacy or the belief that, because of the activities of one person, other individuals having association must commit the same actions as well. This can lead to false charges and imprisonment. Under the pressure of questioning, it can be simple to misrepresent harmless actions and relationships, making them appear criminal in nature. And questioning tactics are meant to produce results.

It is your right to have an attorney present when questioning occurs whether you were involved in a crime or not. But answering questions or volunteering information about associations with individuals without representation present can lead to dire legal consequences even when you had no part in a crime.

Consult with a Greeley Criminal Defense Attorney

Being charged with a crime simply for knowing someone can lead to a conviction for a crime you had no part in. Tragically, this happens in Colorado, sending innocent individuals to prison. McAdams Law Office is dedicated to the defense of individuals convicted of crimes.

Innocence must be presumed until evidence proves otherwise. Our goal is to achieve the best outcome in every case and to have charges dismissed if you have been arrested due to guilt by association. Schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

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