A defendant in criminal proceedings is an individual charged with a crime either in a criminal court or on a civil lawsuit. The term ‘defendant’ is used here to refer to the person accused of wrongdoing. The term ‘possess’ refers to the right of ownership of an item or property. When speaking of a ‘defendant’ we usually intend to refer to an individual. It could be a company, partnership, organization or even a government.
The commonest terminology that people use to talk about a ‘possession’ or ‘fault’ is ‘acquitted’, ‘fault’ or ‘innocent until proven guilty’. What is the defendant here is the state of mind of the person accused of wrongdoing. What is a defendant then? A person who is accused of being involved in an act, which is alleged to have been deliberately done with the effect of intending to commit an act is said to be a defendant. A person who is the subject of an accusation is, in legal terms, the ‘possessor’ of the property or item being accused of having and/or having not properly dealt with it.
As we have seen above, what is a defendant in legal terms is the state of mind of the person being accused. What is an accessory, on another hand, is something that is done by one person to aid another in the commission of an act. In this sense what is accessory and what is defendant can overlap.
For instance, what is the accessory if a person is convicted of murder? That is, they have been found guilty of murder but cannot be proved guilty of it by any means possible, that is, it can not be proved that they had prior knowledge of the killing. We would say that this is an accessory. But what is the defendant if a person is convicted of murder but it can not be proven that they had prior knowledge? It is again an accessory.
The law considers what is accessory to be an accessory even though the state may try to prove otherwise. To illustrate, assume you are standing on a witness stand and the prosecution asks you if you saw a gun in defendant’s hand before the murder took place. Assuming that you answer yes, then it becomes a fact whether or not you saw the gun.
But what is the defendant, if you answer no? The fact remains that you saw the gun and you saw it before the crime was committed. This, however, will not serve the same purpose as what is accessory. If what is accessory can be proved, what is the defendant cannot be. Again, we use the example above.
Thus, what is defendant and what is accessory to have to do with one another? The answer often depends on who is charged with a crime. In some states the two are used interchangeably. One state, for example, refers to what is accessory as proof that the accused has in fact purchased or otherwise obtained possession of a firearm. In another state, what is accessory requires proof that the accused felonious acted in furtherance of a crime.
Different states, of course, often have very different definitions of what is accessory. Some jurisdictions, for example, require that what is accessory necessarily mean that the accused acquired the weapon before committing the crime. On the other hand, what is defendant may mean that the weapon was possessed prior to the commission of the crime. In either event, what is accessory, and what is the defendant, can become a very difficult question of law.
Of course, there is a lot of room for argument about what is accessory and what is defendant. Often, what is accessory is subject to interpretation, subject to judicial determination. This is especially true where the crime involved is something like murder, which is a state of mind, and a state of any kind of crime.
What is defendant is often taken to be what is accessory, but this is not always so. Suppose, for example, that an individual killed his neighbor because he believed that the neighbor was burglarizing his home. In this situation, what is defendant would often be interpreted as what is accessory, because the act of killing the person (which is what is accessory) was in furtherance of the robbery, which is what is criminal in the jurisdiction in which the homicide occurred.
This is just an illustration, however. The situation can be rather complicated, indeed it can sometimes turn on what is accessory as a whole. Sometimes what is accessory can be what is defendant. For example, what is the state of mind of a person who enters a bank with the intent to rob it? What is accessory may be what is accessory to a crime, depending on the state in which the crime is committed. It can be difficult, of course, but it can also be very simple if one only knows how to look at the situation.