phillyboy101 wrote:Can anyone explain the specific differences between conspiracy and accomplice liability -- really in the context for an essay. It seems like one would necessarily involve the other in most instances because they share basically the same elements, but on some of the essay examples they mention conspiracy, but not accomplice liability, so I'm guessing there must be some palpable difference. Thanks!
Conspiracy is just that - a meeting of the minds to conspire to commit a crime. Your crime is the meeting of the minds (your K prof will hate this phrase, alas, c'est ca).
For an essay I'd mention this:
a) A meeting of the minds (your K prof will hate you) between more than 2 people. Obviously you can't conspire alone. There's no requirement for express agreement, no "HEY OK JACK JOE AND ANDY WE ARE ROBBING THIS BANK". Implied agreement is enough, and not all parties need to know each other. Maybe someone doesn't know the getaway driver, maybe like in the Dark Knight you don't know that the Joker is in on the part where he shoots everyone at the beginning and different people are shooting different people to get them out of the way, but it qualifies as a conspiracy nonetheless.
b) Intent: Parties need to intend to enter into the agreement and intend to commit the target crime or objective. No accidents here, you mean it.
c) There needs to be an overt act to further the crime but literally almost ANYTHING would do, for MPC purposes at least. This isn't a common law element. See what they test for but if it's an essay mention both. Like almost ANY SMALL THING, from the Joker stealing that bus to someone buying a gun to the guy getting to the rooftop is enough for the conspiracy.
Conspiracy ends when the crime is complete or fails. The crime does not need to actually happen in full or in common law, happen at all. You get a couple of guys Ocean's Eleven and in the end everyone chickens out but there's enough to fulfill corpus delcti to show conspiracy, the charge can stick. Under the MPC (and I think majority state rules) you need to have like at least scouted out the place or bought some drills or hired Don Cheadle's awful British accent for that conspiracy to stick. There are almost no defenses to conspiracy. Factual impossibility still renders the conspiracy alive - the bank had moved, suddenly the store is having a huge giveaway and everything is free and you can't steal things, you have still conspired. Withdrawal is not a defense, but if a co-conspirator goes on to commit another crime - again, let's use TDKR - the Joker steals a schoolbus to get away in that line blending in and leaving the scene, if you have withdrawan by then, you would be guilty of the conspiracy for the bank robbery but nothing related to the bus theft unless you were in on it the whole time.
Let's talk about accomplice liability:
Accomplice is someone who aids, encourages, or counsels the principle (principal? can never get these two right in the crim context). Basically being an accomplice, you need to have provided some assistance, with intent, to further the crime. Intent is very important. If you inadvertently helped someone (leased a car while working at Hertz, turns out they used it to rob a bank) you're not an accomplice. Also, just being there is not enough. Just because you happen to be at the crime but provided no intentional assistance, encouragement, or counsel, then you're not an accomplice. You're at a Wal-Mart, it's being robbed and the guy's running at the automatic doors and you're coming in and you trigger the automatic doors so he gets out as you come in, there's no prerequisite intent element there for you to be an accomplice.
The liability is that you're liable for both the original and any foreseeable crime committed by the principal in its furtherance. Your principal robs a bank and you are the getaway driver, you can be found of being guilty of both the robbery and anything that happens on the getaway (high speed chase., hitting someone, etc). In contrast (I realize the hypos get silly), if you two rob a bank and then after you're done he goes and decides to dump a bunch of oil in the ocean for some reason after you leave, you're not an accomplice to that pollution charge even if you acted in concert on an earlier set of offenses.
It's hard to say on the MBE or essay how far they want to take the accomplice liability thing. IRL I've worked a case where a person was charged with being an accomplice by allowing his uncle to borrow his car to drive his girlfriend home, but the uncle shot and killed the girlfriend and raped her, even though he only had knowledge of the transport section. He was found not guilty, btw, but I'm just making an example as to what sometimes crazy shit happens IRL as to accomplice liability (and how overzealous some prosecutors are).
Compared to conspiracy, there are way more defenses and exceptions for accomplice liability. You can withdraw if the withdrawal happens before the crime happens or becomes unstoppable. If you guys rented a storage unit for the money you were gonna store from robbing a bank, but nothing else have happened yet, you can say "fuck this I'm outta here and done" and that'd be an withdrawal. The crime is not unstoppable yet. As an accomplice though, you must negate or repudiate the initial encourage. "This was a mistake, I'm getting rid of this storage unit" would suffice. It would not be sufficient if the bank robbery is happening and you're waiting outside and had a change of heart and just took off, you've already allowed and encouraged the crime to happen and it's too late. I see that fact pattern a lot - last minute getaway driver gets a change of heart, well, tough, you went a bit too far and will be an accomplice to the bank robbery (although if some other unforseeable crime happens in the meantime like say if the guy coming out not seeing you around decides to go on a shooting spree, you would not be an accomplice to that. The crime must be foreseeable. Even though you ditching your partner may have caused that shooting spree, it doesn't necessarily render you as an accomplice (although I'm 100% that some overzealous ADA would charge you as one, for the purposes of the bar I'd say you're fine).
If you're a member of a protected class you won't be liable as an accomplice. If you're Traci Lords shooting porno at 15 with a fake ID, you're obviously encouraging the pornographers intentionally into shooting child porn, but you will not be considered an accomplice. Same for Statutory rape an stuff.
There are also statutes that do not provide for accomplice. Drug buyers are not accomplices to drug sellers, guy buying chop shop parts aren't accomplices to the chop shop action unless they specifically told the guy to steal the car and chop it, that sort of thing.
There's also some accessory issues, but that's different from accomplice liability. That's basically rendering criminal assistance after the fact, helping escape or apprehension, with no involvement with the original crime. Let me give you a real life example of how this works (and a good reason why you shouldn't go on CL to find a roommate). At law school I found someone to share my 2BR to cut costs, but sexually harassed my girlfriend one night and since this was before he signed the lease I was able to get his ass out and get a no contact order on him.
A month later he went to a party where some 17 year old kid ate a shard of meth (wtf right?) and of course, overdosed the fuck out and died. My old roomie here had nothing to do with the meth, he didn't have the meth, he wasn't using it, he was just around, but he helped put the body in an old safe they had, trucked it into the middle of the woods, and dug a hole and put the safe in there. He helped the principals (the guys giving the kid drugs) avoid apprehension, but he was not an accomplice to that crime, merely rendered assistance, since he did not aid, encourage, or counsel the principals nor did he help to commit it. He was responsible only for the body disposal to cover up the crime (and later snitching, incidentally). This may come up as an obstruction of justice charge, we called it rendering criminal assistance, it's something you should take note because it does involve something similar to being an accomplice, but he was no, legally speaking, an accomplice to the murder conviction here.
I hope that helps!
1) Meeting of minds (two or more people)
2) Intent to enter into the agreement
3) Intent to commit THAT PARTICULAR crime not just (let's just drive around and see if we wanna pick up a hooker or if convenient, rob a McDicks)
4) MPC - the smallest amount of over act.
5) Can't withdrawal from the conspired crime.
6) Crime doesn't need to be successful, but the conspiracy ends when it terminates either with success or lack thereof
1)Someone who aids, encouragees, or counsels principals to commit a crime intentionally. Must provide assistance.
2) Liable for the whole crime and anything foreseeable.
3) Can withdraw before crime is committed or unstoppable, but must negate or repudiate the aid or encouragement
4) Not applicable to protected classes or parties not provided for in statutes
5) Distinguish from people rendering aid after the fact. Accomplices must have been there at the beginning or prior to the crime being committed or attempted.