Accomplice Liability for Reck/Neg?

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A'nold
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Accomplice Liability for Reck/Neg?

Postby A'nold » Mon May 03, 2010 9:29 pm

Is complicity possible under negligence or recklessness? Seems like the mental state required kind of negates it, since knowledge alone isn't even enough. It's pretty much purposeful b/c you have to have the mental state required for the commission of the crime, not just the act.

Am I missing something here?

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samiseaborn
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Re: Accomplice Liability for Reck/Neg?

Postby samiseaborn » Tue May 04, 2010 9:15 am

I'll admit this is a semester ago for me, but my first instinct is 'it depends'. I've got something in my notes about being able to aid reckless indifference. So, guy 1 wants to set the car on fire for the insurance money, and guy 2 wants to set to car on fire to kill the guy in the back seat. So guy 2 aids guy 1 in setting the fire, but their culpability levels are different for murder. Guy 1 was recklessly indifferent to the murder, but guy 2 had intent. So technically he aided reckless.

Maybe that's not what you are asking at all though?

Renzo
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Re: Accomplice Liability for Reck/Neg?

Postby Renzo » Tue May 04, 2010 9:41 am

A'nold wrote:Is complicity possible under negligence or recklessness? Seems like the mental state required kind of negates it, since knowledge alone isn't even enough. It's pretty much purposeful b/c you have to have the mental state required for the commission of the crime, not just the act.

Am I missing something here?

You have to have purposeful aid/encouragement of the conduct, not the outcome, so you can have complicity for reckless crimes. If two people are drag racing, and one car kills a pedestrian, the other driver is complicit in the resulting manslaughter because he/she purposefully encouraged the killer's reckless driving. Same thing if one person dares his buddy to throw a bowling ball off a highrise into a crowded street, and someone below is killed.

I think this makes it more confusing, but some sources describe that you need 2 mens reas for complicity: you need purpose as to the act of encouragement/aid, and you need whatever mens rea is sufficient as to the underlying crime. Thus if you purposefully give a gun to someone you think is trustworthy, but who then turns and kills someone, you are not complicit based on your purposeful aid because you lacked the necessary mens rea for the underlying crime.

Bhuff
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Re: Accomplice Liability for Reck/Neg?

Postby Bhuff » Tue May 04, 2010 3:52 pm

Yes If you recklessly or negligently voluntarily place yourself in the situation (i.e., joining a gang) then yes accomplice liability is permissible.. Once the actus reus of the crime has been commited then the court will look to the mens rea of each party involved to determine the degree of individual culpability

For Example: A victim is stabbed to death by one of two gang members in an altercation. The other gang member (2) did not know that gang member 1 had the intent to kill or that he was attacking the victim with a knife. Although he was present, and was not aware of the fight, he did not share the same mens rea with gang member 1.

He will still be held liable for the murder as an accomplice for recklessly putting himself in dangerous situation (joining a gange) where the criminal activity is reasonable foreseeable as a result of that recklessness or negligence. One act of murder has occurred. The next step is to look into the mens rea of the parties involved
gang member 1 - 1st or second degree murder depending on certain circumstances.
gang member 2 - involuntary manslaughter for his recklessness

GZL
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Re: Accomplice Liability for Reck/Neg?

Postby GZL » Tue May 04, 2010 8:36 pm

A'nold wrote:Is complicity possible under negligence or recklessness? Seems like the mental state required kind of negates it, since knowledge alone isn't even enough. It's pretty much purposeful b/c you have to have the mental state required for the commission of the crime, not just the act.

Am I missing something here?


I'm confused a bit by the question. Are you asking if accomplice liability applies when the purported accomplice negligently/recklessly aids the commission of a crime committed by another? I would say no, accomplice liability generally requires knowledge (of unlawful purpose), intent (to aid in that purpose) and act (actually abetting it)... this is why a lot of confusion would be cut down if we just used the term "abet" instead of "aiding and abetting." Abetting implies all the necessary elements for criminal culpability, while aiding makes it seem like even accidentally helping in the commission of a crime is itself criminal.

If you're asking if accomplice liability applies when the purported accomplice aids the commission of a crime, from which some further criminal responsibility arises because of the perpetrator's negligence or recklessness, I would say: yes, if the commission of the non-target crime was a natural and probable consequence of the commission of the target crime, given the circumstances (the death of the pedestrian in the drag racing example.)

Then again, I don't know how someone negligently joins a gang, so maybe I'm missing something.

Bhuff
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Re: Accomplice Liability for Reck/Neg?

Postby Bhuff » Thu May 06, 2010 10:08 am

GZL wrote:
A'nold wrote:Is complicity possible under negligence or recklessness? Seems like the mental state required kind of negates it, since knowledge alone isn't even enough. It's pretty much purposeful b/c you have to have the mental state required for the commission of the crime, not just the act.

Am I missing something here?


I'm confused a bit by the question. Are you asking if accomplice liability applies when the purported accomplice negligently/recklessly aids the commission of a crime committed by another? I would say no, accomplice liability generally requires knowledge (of unlawful purpose), intent (to aid in that purpose) and act (actually abetting it)... this is why a lot of confusion would be cut down if we just used the term "abet" instead of "aiding and abetting." Abetting implies all the necessary elements for criminal culpability, while aiding makes it seem like even accidentally helping in the commission of a crime is itself criminal.

If you're asking if accomplice liability applies when the purported accomplice aids the commission of a crime, from which some further criminal responsibility arises because of the perpetrator's negligence or recklessness, I would say: yes, if the commission of the non-target crime was a natural and probable consequence of the commission of the target crime, given the circumstances (the death of the pedestrian in the drag racing example.)

Then again, I don't know how someone negligently joins a gang, so maybe I'm missing something.


Joining a gang would be an example of recklessness rather than criminal negligence.


Accessorial liability does not require that defendant act with conscious objective to cause result described by statute, and thus, an accessory may be liable in aiding another if he act intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence toward the result depending on the mental state required by the substantive crime

When two or more persons are joint participants in a crime, they are joint participants only with respect to a single and common actus reus. Where, however, a single criminal act has different levels of blameworthiness contingent upon the particular mens rea with which it is perpetrated, multiple participants in that crime do no necessarily share the same mens rea. Although joint participation ultimately depends upon a mutual tie to the same criminal act, the individual mentes reae or levels of guilt of the joint participants are permitted to float free and are not tied to each other in any way. If their mentes reae are different, their independent levels of guilt will necessarily be different as well

tikitavi
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Re: Accomplice Liability for Reck/Neg?

Postby tikitavi » Thu May 06, 2010 11:08 am

Here's a couple hypos that I think will help: X has his friend Y at his house. Y is very drunk. X leaves his keys on the counter; Y grabs the keys, takes X's car and then Y kills someone while he is driving.

There's two elements for accomplice liability: 1) X must intentionally aid the commission of a crime, 2) his guilt for any subsequent offense depends on his mens rea to that offense. Here, the first element fails because X did not intend to aid the commission of any crime. So he can't be charged as an accomplice.

You can argue that X can be charged as a principal. I.e., it can be argued that leaving your keys on the counter in the presence of a drunk person is reckless or negligent in regards to the chance that someone might be killed. However, it seems this charge would fail because of causation, because the intervening action of a competent person will generally cut off causation. (Although you can probably also argue that if X got Y drunk, then it's a dependent cause and doesn't cut off causation.) Really, the doctrine of accomplice liability is just a way to get around this causation problem, by making a person liable for the actions of another person, and not just his own actions.

Second hypo: Y is drunk at X's house and X says "Hey Y, can you take my car and go to the store to buy more beer." Y takes the car and goes and kills someone while driving. Here, X can be charged as an accomplice. He intended to aid in the commission of a crime, the crime being Y's drunk driving. X's guilt for homicide depends on his mens rea towards someone being killed by Y. It's probably at least reckless, the prosecution would argue it is extremely reckless and enough for murder, X would argue it's barely even negligent.

X and Y aren't necessarily guilty of the same crime. If X's act was reckless, but Y intended to kill someone while he was driving then X would be guilty of reckless homicide but Y would be guilty of intentional homicide. The accomplice can even be guilty of a worse crime then the principal. For example, the facts show that X wants Y to kill someone while he is driving to the store, but Y is only reckless as to that possibility. X would be guilty of intentional homicide and Y would be guilty of reckless homicide.




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