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Minnesota defines some behavior as criminal if it serves to help someone else commit a crime or if it obstructs the State’s efforts to bring an alleged offender to justice. The penalties for rendering such assistance can be severe.

Under some circumstances, the State will punish you just as harshly as it would have if you had committed the underlying crime yourself.  

Aiding and Abetting in Minnesota

The police can charge you with aiding and abetting in Minnesota if you help, advise, hire, counsel, conspire with, or otherwise cause someone else to commit a crime. If you do any of these things, you are just as liable as the actual offender, and you might receive the same sentence.

Abandonment of Criminal Purpose

If you commit acts that amount to aiding and abetting, you may be able to avoid prosecution. To escape prosecution, you must abandon your criminal purpose and make a reasonably positive effort to prevent the crime. 

Notifying the police, for example, might constitute a reasonable effort to stop the crime. If you abandon your criminal purpose and try to prevent the crime, Minnesota will not hold you criminally liable even if your efforts to stop the crime fail.

Aiding an Offender

Under Minnesota Statutes 609.495 (“Aiding an Offender”), the State can charge you with a crime for harboring, concealing, aiding, or assisting someone who you know (or should know) is guilty of committing a crime. You must act with the intention of helping the perpetrator avoid arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment. 

Minnesota can also charge you for assisting, concealing, or aiding someone on parole, probation, or supervised release for a felony, if the State has issued an arrest warrant for that individual. The maximum penalty for either of these two offenses is three years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Obstructing an Investigation

Minnesota can charge you with another form of “aiding an offender” if you intentionally assist someone in evading justice after you know (or should know) that they committed a crime. Such assistance can come in several different forms, including:

  • Destroying evidence;
  • Hiding evidence; 
  • Providing false or misleading information about the crime; or
  • Other forms of assistance.

The maximum penalty for aiding an offender is half of the maximum prison sentence and half of the maximum fine that the original offender might receive. 

Criminal Prosecutions Move Quickly. Take Immediate Action!

If the police have arrested you on an “aiding and abetting” or “aiding an offender” charge, get in touch with Arechigo & Stokka immediately. We understand the Minnesota criminal justice system from the inside out, and we enjoy working relationships with local judges and prosecutors. 

We promise you aggressive, committed, and intelligent representation. Contact us online or call us at 651-401-7926 to schedule a consultation. We serve clients throughout Minneapolis, St. Paul, Dakota County, and Washington County.

Author Photo

John T. Arechigo, Esq.

Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense in St. Paul, MN. John received his J.D., from Hamline University School of Law and also carries a Bachelor of Arts from, The University of Minnesota. John was named Attorney of the Year for 2019 by Minnesota Lawyer. Additionally, John was also named as a 2019 Rising Star and was selected to Minnesota Super Lawyers in 2021. He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime.

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