Brief Fact Summary. V.T. argued that the evidence was not sufficient to reach the conclusion that he was an accomplice in the theft of a camcorder from his relative’s apartment.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Remaining passive while a crime is being committed, and being friends with the wrongdoer, is not sufficient evidence of being an accomplice and does not incur liability.
There must be evidence showing that the defendant engaged in some active behavior, or at least speech or other expression, that served to assist or encourage the primary perpetrators in committing the crime.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Is remaining passive while a crime is being committed, and being friends with the wrongdoer, sufficient evidence of being an accomplice with incurred liability?
Held. (Orme, J.) No. Merely being present without active participation at the scene of a crime and being friends with the criminal does not mean accomplice liability has been established. The fact of the defendant taking some affirmative action to provoke or stimulate the committing of the crime, or to encourage its commission, or to render any other help towards the crime, is to be proved to support a theory of accomplice liability. Just knowing about a crime or being present at the time is not sufficient to make one an accomplice. Since the evidence here does not support the reasoning of the juvenile court that V.T. was an accomplice, he not having suggested, encouraged, incited or ordered or even knowingly aided the crime, the verdict is reversed.
Discussion. The mere presence of a person may make one an accomplice if one’s role is that which encourages the commission of a crime or aids it in some way, as in the case of a lookout. In such cases, the defendant is clearly aiding and abetting the crime.