Parties to a Crime

Parties to a Crime

Principal in the first degree


Main offender, or the person who actually commits the criminal act.

Principal in the second degree


Person who was present at the crime and assisted or encouraged the principal offender to perform the offence but did not do the act itself.

Accessory before the fact


Helped the principal to plan the crime. Planning and/or preparation before the act is carried out.

Accessory after the fact


Assisted the principals after the act was committed, such as by driving a getaway car or disposing of evidence.

Extract from Legal Studies Stage 6 Syllabus. © 2009 Board of Studies NSW.