Can I be charged with a crime if I didn’t know?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I be charged with a crime if I didn’t know?

My cousin beat a guy up and the guy’s girlfriend said my cousin could use her car but it was really the guy that got beat up car. I walked up as my cousin was driving off and he told me to ride with him. I didn’t know about anything that went on and I got in and rode with him. Now I’m sitting in jail charged with aggravated robbery. Can I be convicted of that charge?

Asked on February 1, 2019 under Criminal Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

To be charged, there must be "probable cause"--a reasonable basis--for thinking you were involved in a crime. Riding in a stolen car with the person who assaulted someone and committed the theft is a reasonable basis for thinking you were involved--as the term "probable" implies, probably involved--in it.
To be convicted requires stronger evidence--beyond a reasonable doubt, or so close to certain that is no not-stupid, silly or unbelieveable reason to think you may not have been involced--that you were knowingly or intentionally involved. Based on what you write, the authorities may not be able to prove the case to that degree, and so may not be able to convict you, unless possibly your cousin, to try to save himself, can plausibly blame it on you (e.g. it was your plan or idea; you helped him) to reduce his own guilt.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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