CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) – West Virginia House Bill (HB) 2365, which relates to people being accessories to crimes, did not complete the legislative process during the 2022 legislative season. The death of Mercer County teen Kierra Jackson has brought House Bill (HB) 2365 back into attention, but what exactly would it have done?

To understand what HB 2365 meant, it is important to understand that crimes are categorized as felonies and misdemeanors, With the former being more severe than the latter.

Anyone who has committed a felony or a misdemeanor is considered the primary offender. Someone who assists the primary offender before committing the crime is usually considered accessory before the fact, and someone who assists the primary offender after they have committed the crime is usually considered an accessory after the fact.

The bill would have changed the punishment for specific people who are accessories to a crime.

The bill would have done three things:

  • Prohibited a felony offender’s a domestic partner or servant from being deemed an accessory after the fact;
  • Created a misdemeanor charge for the brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child or grandchild of the principal offender of a felony if the relative is found to be an accessory to the felony; and
  • Made a misdemeanor crime of being an accessory to a misdemeanor.

The first provision of the bill means that someone aiding an offender after a crime has been committed through any means will not be deemed an accessory to the crime if they are a domestic partner to the primary offender.

The second provision of the bill means that someone who is a servant or employee of the primary offender will not be deemed an accessory if they are aiding the primary offender after the fact.

The final provision of the bill means that anyone related to the primary offender is liable to be considered an accessory to a felony or a misdemeanor, as long as the misdemeanor carries a charge of misdemeanor for acting as an accessory.

Regardless of any changes to the current law the bill might have created, assisting anyone’s criminal activity either before or after the fact, can result in being considered an accessory.

The full text of House Bill 2365 can be viewed on the West Virginia Legislature’s website here.