Federal crimes may sound more serious than California state crimes. While both are serious, when a person faces a federal crime, he or she may not understand the ins and outs of the law. While it is common for people to know little about state law, usually they now more about their state than they do about the federal government. If the federal government accuses you of committing a crime, you may have a difficult time accepting it.
The United States Department of Justice defines aiding and abetting as supporting or encouraging crime. If you face federal charges of aiding and abetting, then the law proves that you acted with intent to facilitate crime and that you acted prior to the crime.
Aiding and abetting on the federal level occurs if you commission a federal crime. Federal aiding and abetting only asks for the prosecution to prove that you had an affirmative participation and encouraged the offender. The penalties for aiding and abetting are serious. Even if you did not commit the crime yourself, the federal government can treat you with the same harsh sentence and punishment. Aiding and abetting almost always involve helping or facilitating a crime in advance. Try not to confuse it with an accessory after the fact.
These may seem like similar laws, but accessory is less serious. An accessory for a crime means that you help someone after he or she commits the crime. The charge of accessory is less than that charge of aiding and abetting.
None of the above is meant to be legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.