ACCESSORY, a person guilty of a felonious offence, not as principal, but by participation; as by advice, command, aid or concealment. In certain crimes, there can be no accessories; all concerned being principals, whether present or absent at the time of their commission. These are treason, and all offences below the degree of felony, as specified in the Offences against the Person Act 1861.
There are two kinds of accessories - before the fact, and after it. The first is he who commands or procures another to commit felony, and is not present himself; for if he be present, he is a principal. The second is he who receives, harbours, assists, or comforts any man that has done murder or felony, whereof he has knowledge. An accessory before the fact is liable to the same punishment as the principal; and there is now indeed no practical difference between such an accessory and a principal in regard either to indictment, trial or punishment. Accessories after the fact are in general punishable with imprisonment (with or without hard labour) for a period not exceeding two years, but in the case of murder punishable by penal servitude for life, or not less than three years, or by imprisonment (with or without hard labour) to the extent of two years. The law of Scotland makes no distinction between the accessory to any crime and the principal (see ART AND PART). Except in the case of treason, accession after the fact is not noticed by the law of Scotland unless as an element of evidence to prove previous accession.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)