This is archived content from the U.S. Department of Justice website. The information here may be outdated and links may no longer function. Please contact if you have any questions about the archive site.

2471. 18 U.S.C. § 2

The first provision one finds in Title 18 of the United States Code regards accessories to crime. Title 18, United States Code § 2 now provides:

(a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.

(b) Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense against the United States, is punishable as a principal.

Aider and abettor liability is distinct from accessory after the fact under 18 U.S.C. § 3. United States v. James, 998 F.2d 74, 80 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 958, 114 S.Ct. 415, 126 L.Ed.2d 362 (1993). An aider and abettor, unlike an accessory after the fact, is punishable as a principal. Id.

[updated October 1998]

Updated January 17, 2020