State arson laws may differ greatly. In some states, it may be arson if:
Burglary may go by another name in your state, like "housebreaking" or "breaking and entering."
But there are principles of criminal liability that apply to people other than the person who actually committed a crime. For example, under federal law there is a crime called "misprision" of a felony, which applies to a person who has actual knowledge of the commission of a felony and doesn't report it to the authorities.
Also, under federal and most state laws, a person can be held criminally liable as an "accessory after the fact" if she has knowledge that a crime was committed and assists the offender to hinder his apprehension, trial or punishment. You can also be guilty of aiding and abetting a crime if you help another person in committing the crime, with knowledge of the criminal nature of the act they're committing.
Additionally, a person who agrees with another person to commit a crime, after which the other person commits a criminal act to further their agreement, may be guilty of conspiracy.
But merely witnessing a crime, without any participation in it and without providing assistance, isn't a crime.
Even if you settle the issue of damages with the other person involved, you'll still have to answer to the criminal charges. The fact that you accepted financial responsibility will be a factor the judge will consider when it comes to your punishment or sentence, but it won't affect the issue of guilt to the criminal charge.
You should seek legal advice right away. A criminal defense attorney in your town can tell you what action is best to take, and whether you should have an attorney accompany you to court to speak for you and try to get you good result.
You should also call the claims department of your insurance company as soon as possible. The company will start a claim file, and explain to you the procedures for getting your car repaired. In the case of a hit and run, or uninsured motorist, the insurance company should pay for your vehicle repairs.
If you later discover the identity of the hit and run driver, you should provide the information both to the police department (making sure to give them the number of your police report) and to your insurance company. The police department will investigate the matter and relay their findings to the local prosecutor, who'll decide whether to file criminal charges. Your insurance company will likely seek financial reimbursement from the hit and run driver for the money it paid to you.
Aiding and abetting applies to someone who assists or helps one or more other people commit a crime. To be held accountable as an aider and abettor, you must know of the criminal objective and do something to make it succeed. For example, if you drive your friend to a meeting where you know your friend is going to buy drugs, you may be an aider and abettor in the drug transaction.
The key here is knowledge. While the level of participation of the aider and abettor may be relatively minor, the prosecution must show more than presence in a vehicle carrying drugs or association with conspirators known to be involved in a crime.
In other words, mere presence at the scene of a crime, even with guilty knowledge that a crime is being committed, isn't enough to make you liable for the crime itself, unless and until you do something to help the crime succeed.
Under federal law, the punishment for someone who aids and abets a crime is the same as the punishment for the person who principally committed the crime. In some states, the punishment may be less.
In most states, it's unlawful for a driver of a vehicle to disobey a police officer's signal to stop if the officer is in uniform and his badge or similar sign of his authority is prominently displayed, or the officer is in a marked police vehicle, regardless of whether he's in uniform.
It's also unlawful for a person who's neither driving or in an vehicle to disobey an officer's order to stop, such as by running away on foot or some other means.
The precise definition of felony murder varies depending on whether federal or state law applies to the case. Generally, someone is liable for murder if, during the course of committing a serious felony, someone else is killed. A "serious felony" is one like arson, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or rape.
For example, if A and B rob a bank and as they're escaping B shoots and kills a bank employee, even by accident, both A and B may be charged with murder unfer the felony murder rule.
Most states also apply the felony murder rule to situations where the death occurs during the immediate flight from the crime. It can also be applied if the perpetrators didn't complete the underlying crime and only attempted to commit the crime, if someone dies during the attempt.
In some states, it's a defense to felony murder if the defendant was unarmed and had no reason to believe that any of his co-conspirators was either armed or intended to engage in any conduct dangerous to life.
A "credible threat" is considered to be one that would cause a reasonable person to be in fear for the person's life or safety of his or her immediate family. If the stalking occurs through repeated communications, it isn't necessary that the communications be made at the same time as the threat to be considered "in connection" with the threat. They might occur before, during or after the threat is made, so long as the communication is related to, a part or in furtherance of the credible threat.
Stalking can also occur when a person repeatedly makes obscene comments or gestures to another person with the intent to harass them, either personally or by telephone- and includes acts done in public as well as those directed to someone in the privacy of his or her home.
Stalking statutes have been challenged on the grounds that they're unconstitutionally vague and infringe on protected areas of free speech. However, at least 48 states have enacted some variation of a stalking statute. While the statutory language isn't identical in every case, the majority of these courts have upheld stalking statutes against such attacks.
The definition of stalking, as well as the penalty, differs from state to state. If you or someone close to you is concerned about being charged with such an offense, you should contact a criminal defense attorney in your area who can advise you of the precise conduct the law prohibits in your state, and the penalties.
There are also federal laws making it illegal to trespass on federal land.
You may have a defense against criminal trespass if the property was open to the public, or your conduct didn't substantially interfere with the owner's use of the property, or you immediately left the premises when requested.
Criminal law, on the other hand, deals with relationships between individuals and the federal, state, or local government. If someone breaks a criminal law (he's called the "defendant"), the government or "prosecutor" files a criminal complaint against the defendant. If the defendant loses (meaning he's "convicted"), he may have to pay a fine or perhaps go to jail.
Robbery, on the other hand, usually involves taking something from someone else by use of force or the threat of force. Stealing a victim's purse at gun-point is a good example of robbery.