While we don’t know how the show will end yet, season five has made it clear that Breaking Bad’s Skyler White is willing to work with Walt -as long as it means keeping their kids safely away from the mess. She’s terrified of him and if she were arrested for her role in Walter’s business, this would be a critical part of her defense.
Skyler White and Aiding and Abetting Charges
While the penalty for aiding and abetting varies from state to state, the concept remains the same and Skyler is undoubtedly guilty of the crime, along with the crime of money laundering. Fortunately, if she and Walter were arrested, Skyler might be able to fight the charges despite the massive amount of evidence against her, assuming she ditched Saul Goodman and hired another criminal defense attorney.
Breaking Bad Skyler White’s Defense
The concept of means rea would be the crux of Skyler White’s defense. The fact that she only started helping Walter because she wanted to keep her family together and that she eventually moved her children out of the house in order to protect them shows that she is scared of Walter. She knows he is not only a drug dealer, but a murderer and since she is cooperating only out of fear for her own safety and the safety of her family means that she lacks the means rea necessary to be convicted for an aiding and abetting charge.
Acting Under Duress
Skyler may have a complete defense to all crimes, short of murder, by claiming duress. If she committed the crimes due to threats or menace by Walt, or anyone else for that matter, and there was a reasonable likelihood she or her children’s lives would be endangered if she refused, then she can claim duress. In California, defense lawyers can claim duress as a complete defense to any crime except murder -this would also work in New Mexico.
A Plea Bargain Could Save Her A Lot of Prison Time
Even if this was not the case and the prosecution had ample evidence that she helped set up the car wash before she felt her family and her own safety were in danger, a good lawyer like Peter M. Liss could most likely negotiate a plea bargain to have the charges against Skyler dropped or reduced if she were willing to testify against Walt (something she almost certainly would be happy to do in this situation). Her chances for a plea bargain are particularly good considering that a spouse cannot legally be forced to testify against their partner and that she would have Hank, a DEA agent, on her side, pushing for the charges to be dropped.
Staying Out of Prison
Granted, Skyler’s life wouldn’t be easy if she were arrested. She would most likely lose custody of her kids, lose the car wash and all of her savings and spend up to a year in and out of court fighting her own charges and helping to ensure Walt was found guilty. But, she would most likely not be convicted as long as she worked with the right defense lawyer.
Peter M. Liss can help anyone in San Diego who may feel like they are in a similar situation as Skyler from Breaking Bad. If you are charged with a crime that you only participated in because you were scared for your own safety or the safety of your family, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Gage Skidmore