Canadian Criminal Law/Offences/Accessory After the Fact


Accessory after the fact
23. (1) An accessory after the fact to an offence is one who, knowing that a person has been a party to the offence, receives, comforts or assists that person for the purpose of enabling that person to escape.
(2) [Repealed, 2000, c. 12, s. 92]
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 23; 2000, c. 12, s. 92.
Where one party cannot be convicted

23.1 For greater certainty, sections 21 to 23 apply in respect of an accused notwithstanding the fact that the person whom the accused aids or abets, counsels or procures or receives, comforts or assists cannot be convicted of the offence.
R.S., 1985, c. 24 (2nd Supp.), s. 45.


Accessory after fact to murder
240. Every one who is an accessory after the fact to murder is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 223.


657.2 ...
Accessory after the fact
(2) Where an accused is charged with being an accessory after the fact to the commission of an offence, evidence of the conviction or discharge of another person of the offence is admissible against the accused, and in the absence of evidence to the contrary is proof that the offence was committed.
1997, c. 18, s. 80.


Proof of the offenceEdit

To prove the offence, the crown should establish the following in addition to the essential elements of time, location and identity:[1]

  1. the accused knew a crime had been committed
  2. the accused intended to aid the principal
  3. the accused did an act that enabled the principle to escape (arrest, trial, punishment)

  1. R v Young (1950 10 C.R. 142, 98 CCC 195 (Que.CA)


An accessory to an offence is not the same as a party to an offence. It is a separate offence that is committed subsequent to the initial offence.[1]

The accused must know that that the person they are assisting was a principle or party to an offence, and the assistance must be for the purpose of enabling the person to escape. It is not sufficient that the accused merely do an act that enables the escape.[2]

It is not necessary for the principle or party to the main offence be charged or convicted for it for an accused to be convicted as an accessory.[3] But if the principle or party is acquitted, then the accused cannot be convicted.[4] However, R v S(FJ), [1998] 1 SCR 88 seems to go so far to say that the words "Whether or not the principal is convicted" can include an acquittal.

The conviction of the principle is admissible to prove that the accessory committed the offence.[5]

All evidence that has been found admissible for the principle will be admissible against the accessory.[6]

See Also: R v Wisdom, 1992 OJ No. 3110 (Ont.Gen.Div.)

A person is not guilty as an accessory for refusing to provide information to authorities.[7]

The following actions have been found to amount to the offence of accessory:

  1. assisting the principle by giving him information or aid.[8]
  2. hiding the principal offender[9]
  3. concealing evidence [10]
  4. giving false information to authorities including participating in a fake alibi [11]
  1. R v Vinette [1975] 2 SCR 222 2 SCR 222
  2. R v McVay (1982) 66 CCC (2d) 512 (ONCA)
  3. R v Camponi (1993) 22 CR (4th) 348 (BCCA)
    R v Anderson (1980) 26 AR 172 (ABCA)
  4. R v Vinette
  5. R v Duong (1998) 124 CCC (3d) 392 (ONCA) see also s.657.1 relating to criminal records
  6. R v Vinette
  7. R v Semenick (1955) 11 CCC 337 (BCCA)
  8. R v Young (1950) 10 CR 142 (QCCA)
    R v White [1972] 8 CCC (2d) 552 (BCPC)
    R v Campbell 2002 NSCA 35
  9. R v White, [1972] 8 CCC (2d) 552
  10. R v Knuff (1980) 52 CCC (2d) 523
  11. R v French (1977) 37 CCC (2d) 201 aff'd [1980] 1 SCR 148


  • R v Nolan 2001 BCCA 354
  • R v Kuzniak, 1989 60 Man. R. (2d) 270 (MBCA)
  • R v Dow, 2003 NSSC 82
  • R v Drew, (1989) 7 WCB (2d) 394 (NSSC)
  • R v Murdoch, (1988) 5 WCB (2d) 341