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People v. Luparello

    Brief Fact Summary. A friend who the Defendant, Luparello (Defendant), sent to victim’s house to elicit information as to his former lover’s whereabouts shot and killed the victim when he refused to divulge the requested information. Defendant was charged with murder as an accomplice, though he was not present at the murder scene.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. An accomplice is criminally responsible for the actual crime committed, rather than merely the intended crime.

    Facts. In an effort to locate his former lover, the Defendant asked friends to pay a visit to a man he believed would know her location, telling them he wanted the information at any cost. Defendant’s friends visited the man Defendant had indicated to them, but failed to get information out of him. The following night they returned to visit him again, this time armed with weapons. The Defendant’s friends lured the man out of his house where one of them, sitting in a car, then shot and killed him. The Defendant was convicted of murder pursuant to the theory of accomplice liability.

    Issue. Is accomplice liability limited to those crimes the accomplice intended a co-conspirator to commit?

    Held. No. Judgment affirmed.
    Pursuant to the policy that aiders and abettors should bear responsibility for the criminal offenses they have foreseeably put in motion, accomplice liability includes liability for all crimes committed by a co-conspirator rather than just the intended crimes. Regardless of the Defendant’s contention that the murder was the unplanned and unintended act of a co-conspirator, the Defendant is nonetheless criminally responsible for it on the basis that he intentionally encouraged or influenced the underlying nefarious act. “He is guilty not only of the offense he intended to facilitate or encourage, but also of any reasonably foreseeable offense committed by the person he aids and abets.” (People v. Croy, 41 Cal. 3d 1, 710 P.2d 392).

    Concurrence. The “foreseeable consequence” doctrine irrationally transfers to an accomplice the same level of culpability of the principal. Here, the Defendant may at most have been criminally negligent in setting in motion a situation that might have resulted in death – in other words, the crime of involuntary manslaughter. However, because the principal was lying in wait for his victim, the culpability rises to the level of intentional homicide or first-degree murder. Alternatively, if the principal had been intoxicated to the point that he would be unable to form the requisite malice, the Defendant would then only be guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Such fortuity of result is irrational.

    Discussion. This case illustrates how the theory of accomplice liability works to hold all co-conspirators equally criminally responsible for the crimes of each and every other co-conspirator.


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