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Bailey v. United States

    Brief Fact Summary. Defendant was convicted of robbery. Defendant argues that he was merely present and did not have a role in the crime.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Mere presence at the scene of the crime is insufficient; a culpable presence is essential.

    Facts. Defendant was convicted of robbery. Defendant was seen together with an unknown man believed to be the actual robber prior to the robbery. Defendant walked away from the actual robber prior to the robbery, but remained a few feet away. After the robbery was accomplished, both Defendant and the robber ran in the same direction.

    Issue. Was Defendant’s proximity to the crime sufficient to support a conviction for robbery?

    Held. Reversed and remanded for a judgment of acquittal.
    In order to aid and abet another to commit a crime, it is necessary that a Defendant in some sort associate himself with the venture and that he participate in it as in something that he wishes to bring about.

    An inference of criminal participation cannot be drawn merely from presence, a culpable purpose is essential.

    Present is equated with aiding and abetting when it is shown that it encourages the perpetrator, facilitates the unlawful deed, or when it stimulates others to offer assistance in the commission of the crime.

    Dissent. The dissent focused on the fact that Defendant was closely associated with the perpetrator and was with him immediately before the robbery. This left in the dissenting judges’ eyes no other permissible explanation but that Defendant was involved with the crime.

    Discussion. The Court discussed each action that Defendant took in conjunction with the actual robber before, during and after the crime. The Court found that although Defendant was seen with the robber, he did not aid the robber in any fashion. The Court also noted that there could be several explanations for why Defendant ran away after the robbery took place. This analysis concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support a conviction because the Government could not furnish any evidence that Defendant took any active role.


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