Conspiracy & Accomplice Liability Flashcards Preview

Criminal Law > Conspiracy & Accomplice Liability > Flashcards

Flashcards in Conspiracy & Accomplice Liability Deck (48):

a person is an _________ in the commission of a crime if she intentionally assists another to engage in the conduct that constitutes the offense



Accomplice liability is derivative. Accomplice’s liability ______ from primary party to whom she gave assistance.



Accomplice ordinarily convicted of offense committed by primary party. Accomplice’s liability _________ on principal violating law.



person who with requisite mens rea personally commits offense (fires gun that kills victim for murder) (by own hand or innocent instrumentality)

Principals in the first degree (perpetrators)


person who intentionally assists principal in first-degree to commit offense and who is actually or constructively present during commission. Person is constructively present if

2) Principals in the second degree (abettors)



intentionally assists in committing crime but is not actually or constructively present during commission.
Example -- Adam is an accessory before the fact if he solicits a murder, or if he intentionally furnishes Peter with a gun for use in the homicide, but Adam is not present at the time of the crime.

Accomplices before the fact (inciters)



person who with knowledge of felon’s guilt, assists felon to avoid arrest, trial, or conviction. Common law treated accessory after fact as accomplice in commission of crime and thus held responsible for crime.

Accomplices after the fact (criminal protectors)



whether called accomplices, accessories, or aiders and abettors, every state has statutory provisions to punish actors whose only relationship to a crime was giving assistance to the principal offender

Accomplice Liability


Principals in the first degree + principals in the second degree + accomplices before the fact =



may be tried and punished without regard to principal’s prosecution

accessories before fact


All parties involved in crimes whatever their former status under common law are to be tried, convicted, punished as principals except ______________.

accessories after-the-fact


A person assists in offense if solicits, encourages, aids

Accomplice Liability-Actus Reus (Common Law)


a person is not an accomplice unless conduct in fact assists

Accomplice Liability-Actus Reus (Common Law)


If person intentionally aids in commission of crime, she is liable as accomplice, although her assistance was trivial

Accomplice Liability-Actus Reus (Common Law)


She is liable even if crime would’ve occurred without her assistance; even if her assistance did not cause commission of crime
Enough to make commission slightly easier
Encouragement is enough
Presence at scene of crime is not sufficient to make one accomplice.
Even if one is present to aid in offense, she is not an accomplice unless she in fact assists.

Accomplice Liability-Actus Reus (Common Law)


Assistance -- to be accomplice, person must (1) solicit offense, (2) aid, agree to aid, or attempt to aid in commission of offense, or (3) fail to make proper effort to prevent commission of offense (assuming she has legal duty to act).

Accomplice Liability-Actus Reus (MPC)


Accomplice may be convicted even though perpetrator:
Has not been convicted/prosecuted
Has been convicted of different offense or degree
Has immunity
Has been acquitted

Accomplice Liability-Actus Reus (MPC)


Person is accomplice if has:
intent to render conduct that, in fact, assists primary party commit offense
intent, by such assistance, that primary party commit offense
Another way to formulate:
intentionally engage in acts of assistance
act with level of culpability required in definition of offense in which assisted

Accomplice Liability-Mens Rea (common Law)


A person is accomplice if with purpose of promoting or facilitating commission of offense, engages in accessorial conduct

Accomplice Liability-Mens Rea (MPC)


When result is element of offense, defendant must act with culpability with respect to result that is sufficient for commission of offense

Accomplice Liability-Mens Rea (MPC)


Majority of courts hold that a person is not an accomplice in a crime unless she shares the criminal intent of the principal

Accomplice Liability-Mens Rea (MPC)


Defendant is guilty of conspiracy (by implication principal's offense via complicity) if he:
(1) knows of the crime AND
(2) either
(a) intends to participate (purpose that crime occur) OR
(b) crime is very harmful OR
(c) has a stake in crime, MEANING
(i) charges criminal above market price (shares in proceeds)
(ii) derives bulk of profits from supplying
(iii) no legitimate purpose for goods supplied, OR
(iv) no legitimate purpose for volume of goods supplied

Accomplice Liability-Mens Rea (MPC)


accomplice liability in commission of a crime of recklessness or negligence is permitted as long as the secondary party has:
(1) intent to assist primary party to engage in conduct that forms basis of offense
(2) mental state (recklessness or negligence) required for commission of substantive offense

Accomplice Liability for Unintentional Crimes


At common law (& modern majority) a person engaging or facilitating commission of a crime may be held criminally liable not only for that crime but for any other offense that was a natural and probable consequence of the crime aided and abetted.
(1) Did perpetrator commit target crime A? If yes,
(2) Was defendant an accomplice in commission of crime A? If yes,
(3) Did perpetrator commit any other crimes? If yes,
(4) Were these crimes, although not contemplated or desired by defendant, reasonably foreseeable consequences of crime A?



One approach: as long as secondary party acts with purpose of assisting principal in conduct that constitutes the offense and has level of culpability required as to prohibited result, he should be an accomplice if his culpability as to attendant circumstance would be sufficient to convict him as a principal. The mens rea policies regarding the substantive offense control the accomplice's guilt.
Another approach: require purpose or knowledge as to attendant circumstance elements.

Attendant Circumstances - Accomplice Liability


agreement between two or more people to commit unlawful act or series of unlawful acts



a particular conspirator is responsible for any criminal act committed by an associate if:
it was committed in furtherance of the conspiracy, AND
is a foreseeable consequence of the unlawful agreement.

Pinkerton Doctrine


Can withdrawal from conspiracy and avoid _________ liability.



MPC rejects ______ _______. A person is not accountable for conduct of another solely because he conspired with that person to commit offense. Drafters believed there was no way to confine the scope of liability.

Pinkerton Doctrine


Exception to _________ rule for statements made by co-conspirators in furtherance of conspiracy -- hearsay statements of co-conspirators can be used to establish existence of agreement



Proof of existence of conspiracy can be inferred by ___________ evidence



Preventive law enforcement -- provides ability to arrest people before they commit crime, even before attempt stage
Special dangerousness -- group criminality more dangerous than individual wrongdoing. When people get together to commit crime, they are more dangerous and resourceful and less likely to change their minds

Rational for Conspiracy


Conspiracy specific intent crime
Two-part test –
intent to agree
intent that the object of agreement be achieved

Mens Rea (Common Law) for Conspiracy


Person not guilty of conspiracy unless she acts with purpose of promoting or facilitating commission of conduct that constitutes crime

Mens Rea (MPC) for Conspiracy


Actus reus of conspiracy is agreement by two or more parties to commit an unlawful act or series of unlawful acts.
Need not be a crime. For example, agree to commit libel.
A common-law conspiracy is committed as soon as agreement is made.

Actus Reus (Common Law) for Conspiracy


The object of the agreement must be a crime.

Actus Reus (MPC) for Conspiracy


agreement need not be in writing or even verbally expressed. May be implied from actions of parties.



must be at least two people in agreement. No person is guilty of conspiracy unless two or more possess requisite mens rea.

Common law plurality requirement


the _______ _______ (the common-law bilateral approach) does not require that two persons be prosecuted and convicted of conspiracy. Prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that there were two or more persons who formed agreement with requisite mens rea.

plurality doctrine


Focuses on act of person who is or believes he is agreeing with another to commit a crime
Majority of jurisdictions follow unilateral approach, making prosecution with use of undercover agents workable



No _____ _____ requirement at common law for conspiracy

overt act


overt act required, except for felonies of first and second degree
Modern majority -- majority of jurisdictions with general conspiracy statutes require as element of offense proof of "overt act" on part of one of co-conspirators in order to establish conspiracy
Overt act doesn't have to be much, even relatively insignificant action from one co-conspirator will suffice

Overt Act Requirement (MPC)


crime of conspiracy complete as soon as agreement formed by two or more culpable people. No turning back.

Renunciation/ Abandonment - Common law


Although renunciation is not a defense to conspiracy, a person who withdraws from a conspiracy may avoid conviction for subsequent offenses committed in furtherance of the conspiracy by other members if the abandoning party communicates his withdrawal to every other member of the conspiracy (a near impossibility in many member conspiracies)

Renunciation/ Abandonment - Common law


MPC provides affirmative defense to conspiracy of renunciation of criminal purpose. Defendant must renounce criminal purpose and thwart success of conspiracy under circumstances demonstrating a complete and voluntary renunciation of criminal intent.
Must withdraw and negate danger of group joined

Renunciation/ Abandonment MPC


A common law conspiracy does not merge into the attempted or completed offense that is the object of the agreement.

Merger (Common Law)


The extra danger posed by conspiratorial relationships justifies punishment of the conspiracy even if the criminal object is completed
Also the rule in the majority of states and in the federal system

Merger (Common Law)


a conspirator may not be convicted of both conspiracy and target offense, unless prosecutor proves conspiracy involved commission of additional offenses not yet committed or attempted (continuing course of conduct)

Merger (MPC)