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State v. Ward

    Brief Fact Summary. No facts were presented in the portion of the case offered by the Dressler textbook.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. An accessory cannot be tried, without his consent, before the principal. Furthermore, an accessory cannot be convicted of a higher crime than his principal. An acquittal of the principal bars a subsequent trial of the accessory.

    Facts. No facts were presented in the portion of the case offered by the Dressler textbook.

    Issue. No issue was presented in the portion of the case offered by the Dressler textbook

    Held. There was no holding from the Court of Appeals of Maryland that was apparent in the portion of the case offered by the Dressler textbook

    Discussion. The Court of Appeals of Maryland used the Ward case to distinguish between principal and accessory liability. The court noted that principals have been classified in the first degree (perpetrators) and second degree (abettors) and accessories have been classified as either accessories before the fact (inciters) or after the fact (criminal protectors).
    A principal in the first degree is one who actually commits a crime, either by his own hand or through an inanimate object or an innocent human agent.

    A principal in the second degree is one who is guilty of felony by reason of having aided, counseled, commanded or encouraged the commission thereof in his presence, either actual or constructive.

    An accessory before the fact is one who is guilty of felony by reason of having aided, counseled, commanded or encouraged the commission thereof, without having been present either actually or constructively at the moment the crime was perpetrated.

    An accessory after the fact is one who, with knowledge of the others’ guilt, renders assistance to a felon in the effort to hinder his detection, arrest, trial or punishment.

    All four of these accomplice liability classifications have largely been altered by statute. Most affected by this change in policy is the classification of accessory after the fact. In general, an accessory after the fact is no longer treated as a party to the crime committed by the principal, but rather is subject to prosecution for a separate and/or lesser offense.


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