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Abet refers to criminally assisting another person in the commission of a crime including planning a crime, escaping from a crime, or in the actual commission of the crime.

A party that abets commission of a crime can be charged and prosecuted on grounds of accomplice liability. Under federal law, parties charged with abetting are charged as principals and are, therefore, subject to the same penalties as if they had physically committed the crime themselves. 

A party who abets before a crime occurs is frequently known as an accessory before the fact. A party who abets by nature of being present at the scene of the crime like a lookout is frequently known as a principal in the second decree

In statutes or case law, abetting is also frequently written as “aiding and abetting”. 

[Last updated in June of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]