What is accomplice liability?
Under the Pennsylvania crimes code, a person is liable for conduct of another when;
“(1) acting with the kind of culpability that is sufficient for the commission of the offense, he causes an innocent or irresponsible person to engage in such conduct; (2) he is made accountable for the conduct of such other person by this title or by the law defining the offense; or (3) he is an accomplice of such other person in the commission of the offense.” Title 18 Pa. Code 306 (b)(1)(2)(3)
Also referred to as “complicity” to a crime and commonly known as “aiding and abetting” a criminal. Accomplice liability allows the courts to find a person criminally liable for the acts of another if the individual encouraged or assisted the commission of a crime. This concept means that the accomplice is held to the same degree of guilt and punishment as the individual that committed the crime. The main consideration in this type of case is whether the individual knowingly and intentionally encouraged or aided the commission of the crime, and in some cases, failure to report a crime can also be considered complicity to the courts.
What constitutes an accomplice?
A person is an accomplice of another person in the commission of an offense if:
“(1) with the intent of promoting or facilitating the commission of the offense, he: (i) solicits such other person to commit it; or (ii) aids or agrees or attempts to aid such other person in planning or (2) his conduct is expressly declared by law to establish his complicity.” Title 18 Pa. Code 306 (c)(1)(2)
The accomplice is not required to have physically committed the crime to be held liable, if the actions said person took contributed to the commission of a crime, they can then be held accountable for the crime as well. An accomplice is distinguished from an accessory in the essence that an accessory helps the criminal PRIOR to the crime, while an accomplice aids the criminal DURING the commission of the crime.
Examples of an accomplice
- Serving as the “getaway” driver in a robbery.
- Loaning money, weapons, or other objects to use in the commission of a crime.
- Encouraging the commission of a crime.
- Turning off the alarm systems of a store in which you are employed at, knowing that it is going to be robbed later that evening.
- Being a “look-out” for cops or witnesses while a crime is being committed.
A person is not an accomplice in an offense committed by another person if:
“(1) he is a victim of that offense; (2) the offense is so defined that his conduct is inevitably incident to its commission; or (3) he terminates his complicity prior to the commission of the offense and: (i) wholly deprives it of effectiveness in the commission of the offense; or (ii) gives timely warning to the law enforcement authorities or otherwise makes proper effort to prevent the commission of the offense.”
How can The Law Office of Vincent J. Caputo help?
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