Introduction and basic concepts



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Accomplice Liability


    1. Theory

      1. Accomplice liability, at least in theory, holds one liable for conduct of another through a theory of complicity or facilitation.

      2. Accomplice Liability requires two kinds of mens rea: (1) mens rea to help, and (2) mens rea to actually commit the act.

      3. One can be convicted of a crime (e.g. murder) under the theory of accomplice liability; one is not convicted of “aiding and abetting a murder.”

      4. Accomplice liability exists for omissions, but only when there is a duty to prevent and a purpose to see the act done.

      5. Learned Hand Peoni standard  that one must have a stake in the venture in order to be convicted as an accomplice. Is this in accord with the MPC?

      6. Three forms of being an accomplice: solicit, (agreeing or attempt to) aid, not acting on a legal duty to prevent




    1. MPC § 2.06

      1. (1) – A person is accountable for crime committed by another for whom he is legally accountable.

      2. (2) – A person is legally accountable for conduct of another when (a) (acting w/ necessary intent) he cause an innocent person to engage in such conduct; (b) he is made accountable by law, or (c) he is an accomplice

      3. (3) definition of an accomplice: (a) (i) solicits, (ii) aids in planning or commission, or (iii) fails in legal duty to make an effort to prevent, or (b) conduct is expressly declared by law to establish complicity.

      4. (4) accomplice must act with with type of mens rea that would is sufficient for commission of offense (e.g. purposefully, knowingly, etc.)

      5. (5) person who is incapable my be convicted of offense committed by another for whom he is legally responsible.

      6. (6) NOT an accomplice if: (a) victim; (b) offense is so defined that conduct is inevitably incident to its commission; (c) terminates complicity prior to act and (i) deprives conduct of effectiveness, or (ii) informst the authorities.

      7. (7) accomplice can be convicted even though person helped has not bee prosecuted, convicted or has immunity




    1. Cases:

      1. Hicks v. U.S.: ’s conviction of murder for words he uttered that had an effect of encouraging the murder was overturned. Trial judge failed to instruct the jury that Hicks had to intend that his words encourage the murder. Person cannot be an accomplice to murder unless encourage was made with intention of encouraging the murder.

      2. Wilson v. People: helped friend break into liquor store, but he called the cops as a set up. Conviction of burglary overturned.

      3. State v. Gladstone: ’s conviction for facilitating the sale of marijuana is overturned. He told police informant that he was out of pot but drew a map for customer. There can be no aiding and abetting where there is no connectin or association with the principal (Gladstone never spoke to person who sold marijuana.

      4. People v. Luparello: wanted to find his girlfriend and got several friends to help him get the information from victim. He said he wanted it at any cost, and one of these friends killed the victim. This court’s theory is you don’t need purpose for the result; can just be negligent with respect to the result of actions you set in motion.

        1. established the natural and problem consequence rule:  can be responsible for facilitating actual crime the principle committed as long as it’s foreseeable.

        2. rule doesn’t work under the MPC  transfers mens rea of actor to accomplice; punishment no longer proportional to ’s mental state




      1. Roy v. U.S.: ’s conviction for aiding armed robbery was overturned. sent federal agent to friend to buy a handgun did not know about robbery (can’t say should have known).

      2. U.S. v. Xavier: Cannot be guilty of aiding fellon’s possession of a firearm, if you don’t know the person is a felon (man gave his brother a gun, but iddn’t know brother was a felon). Even though offense is strict liability for felon, it is not for accomplice.




    1. Accomplice liability by omission is established if person fails to act on a legal duty to prevent the crime.

      1. State v. Stanciel: (Burgos) held liable for boyfriend beating to death her daughter (failure to protect her). She violated a cort order to keep Stanciel away from child.

      2. Walden: failure of a parent who is present to takea ll steps reasonably possible to protect child from attack constitutes an acto of omission shoing ocnsent and contribution to crime.




    1. Excuses and justifications. Do they carry over?

      1. Vaden v. State: Vaden flew an undercover government agent around so the agent could shoot game illegally.  claimed that there was no crime because the government agent could ignore the law. Court rueld that pubic authority justification only applied to agent, not to  [Due process issues: # of foxes shot affected # of counts  gets charged with]


NOTE: MPC § 3.03  execution of public duty justification

Court is not sure they buy Snell’s justification, but they are willing to put that aside, because it is not relevant.



      1. Taylor v Commonwealth: Excuxes to commission of a crime are personal to the actor and cannot be sued by accomplice to escape criminal liability. ’s conviction upheld after she helped fiancé abduct his son from mother’s home.

Idea: justification may transfer, but excuse is personal to the principal actor.

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