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Backun v. United States

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Backun appealed his conviction for the sale of stolen merchandise on the grounds that he was an accessory in the crime rather than a principal.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Aiding and abetting a crime makes the defendant a principal to that crime.

    Facts.

    Backun sold Zucker stolen merchandise in order for Zucker to sell the stolen merchandise to pawnshops. When Zucker was convicted for selling the silverware, Backun was also convicted for his role in the sale of the stolen merchandise. Backun appealed his conviction on the grounds that he was an accessory in the crime, rather than a principal.

    Issue.

    Does aiding and abetting in a crime make a defendant a criminal or a principal in that crime?

    Held.

    Yes. The district court was correct in charging Backun as a principal to the crime.

    Points of Law - for Law School Success

    For the proposition that guilt as an accessory depends, not on having a stake in the outcome of crime but on aiding and assisting the perpetrators; and those who make a profit by furnishing to criminals, whether by sale or otherwise, the means to carry on their nefarious undertakings aid them just as truly as if they were actual partners with them having a stake in the fruits of their enterprise.

    View Full Point of Law
    Discussion.

    A person who aids in the commission of the crime, regardless of how much they participate, can be charged as a principal to the crime. Backsun sold stolen merchandise to Zucker, with the intent that the stolen merchandise be sold to pawn shops. Backun knew that the crime could not be committed if he did not provide Zucker with the merchandise, making Backun more than just an accessory to the crime.


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