18 U.S.C. § 2 “Aiding & Abetting” – knowingly and willingly assisting a crime

     This page is continued from Criminal Law Self-Help >>>> Types of Crimes and Corresponding Laws >>>> Types of Crimes Necessarily Committed by Two or More Persons Working Together:

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     Similarly to Title 42 Action for Neglect to Prevent, Aiding & Abetting” can be charged when someone is actually assisting a crime.  Action for Neglect to Prevent differs because it stipulates that “they could have prevented it without putting themselves in harm’s way- but chose to do nothing instead.”  Aiding and Abetting means they performed a conscious effort to assist:

Transcript of Code:

18 U.S.C.  2. Principals

(a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.

(b) Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense against the United States, is punishable as a principal. [1]

Related Terms:

accomplice liability – criminal responsibility of one who acts with another before, during, or (in some jurisdictions) after a crime.  18 USCA § 2.

principal –  Someone who commits or participates in a crime. — aka criminal principal.  Cf. ACCESSORY (2); ACCOMPLICE (2). [2]  1. One actually or constructively present, and abetting the commission of the offense, that is, doing some act at the time of the commission of the crime that is in furtherance of the offense. 21 Am J2d Crim L § 120.

Under Federal statutes, he who, in the commission of an illegal act with others, such as maintaining an illicit still, conducting a burglary or a holdup, arms and instructs his confederates to kill if obstructed in the attempt,w ith the purpose and intent that they do so, is in law a principal in any wilful killing which results from carrying out those instructions. Young v United States (CA5 Tex) 97 F2d 200.  See, also principal D, 1010. [3]

     Excerpt from J.W. Cecil Turner, Kenny’s Outlines of Criminal Law 89 (16th ed. 1952):

     “The student should notice that in criminal law the word ‘principal’ suggests the very converse of the idea which it represents in mercantile law.  In the former, as we have seen, an accessory proposes an act, and the ‘principal’ carries it out.  But in the law of contract, and in that of tort, the ‘principal’ only authorizes an act, and the ‘agent’ carries it out.  Where the same transaction is both a tort and a crime, this double use of the word may cause confusion.  For example, if, by an innkeeper’s directions, his chamber-maid steals jewels out of a guest’s portmanteau, the maid is the ’principal’ in a crime, wherein her master is an accessory before the fact; whilst she is also the agent in a tort, wherein her master is the ‘principal.” [4]

principal in the first degree (18c) The perpetrator of a crime. — aka first-degree principal. [2]   1. One who commits a criminal act either in person or through an innocent agent. State v Wilson, 233 Iowa 538, 17 NW2d 138; State v Minton, 234 NC 716, 68 SE2d 844, 31 ALR2d 682; Red v State, 39 Tex Crim 667, 47 SW 1003. [3]1. A person who commits a crime, either in person or through an innocent agent. [5]

     Excerpt from J.W. Cecil Turner, Kenny’s Outlines of Criminal Law 85-86 (16th ed. 1952):

     “By a principal in the first degree, we mean the actual offender — the man in whose guilty mind lay the latest blamable mental cause of the criminal act.  Almost always, of course, he will be the man by whom this act itself was done. But occasionally this will not be so; for the felony may have been committed by the hand of an innocent agent who, having no blamable intentions in what he did, incurred no criminal liability by doing it. In such a case the man who instigates this agent is the real offender; his was the last mens rea that preceded the crime, though it did not cause it immediately but mediately. [6]

principal in the second degree (18c) 1. Someone who helped the perpetrator at the time of the crime. — aka accessory at the fact; second-degree principal.  See ABETTOR. [2]  1. One present at the commission of a criminal act, lending countenance, aid, encouragement, or other mental assistance, while another commits the act. Red v State, 39 Tex Crim 667, 47 SW 1003.  One present at the time a crime is committed, lending countenance, aid, or encouragement, or one keeping watch at some convenient distance while another person performs the actual criminal act. Brown v Commonwealth, 130 Va 733, 107 SE 809. [3]1. A person who is present at the commission of a crime, giving aid and encouragement to the chief perpetrator.
See aiding and abetting.  Compare accessory before the fact. [5]

     Excerpt from Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N. Boyce, Criminal Law 736 (3d ed. 1982) (quoting Beausoliel v. U.S., 107 F.2d 292, 297 (DC Cir. 1939)):

     “The distinction between principals in the first and second degrees is a distinction without a difference except in those rare instances in which some unusual statute has provided a different penalty for one of these than for the other.  A principal in the first degree is the immediate perpetrator of the crime while a principal in the second degree is one who did not commit the crime with his own hands but was present and abetting the principal. It may be added, in the words of Mr. Justice Miller, that one may perpetrate a crime, not only with his own hands, but ‘through the agency of mechanical or chemical means, as by instruments, poison or powder, or by an animal, child, or other innocent agent’ acting under his direction.[7]

References:

Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: U.S. Federal District Court in Massachussets on “Aiding & Abetting”: www.mad.uscourts.gov/resources/pattern2003/html/patt1jsi.htm

[2]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[4]: J.W. Cecil Turner, Kenny’s Outlines of Criminal Law 89 (16th ed. 1952).

[5]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[6]: J.W. Cecil Turner, Kenny’s Outlines of Criminal Law 85-86 (16th ed. 1952).

[7]: Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N. Boyce, Criminal Law 736 (3d ed. 1982) (quoting Beausoliel v. U.S., 107 F.2d 292, 297 (DC Cir. 1939)).

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