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State v. Diaz

    Brief Fact Summary. Defendant was convicted of attempted murder and murder. Defendant argues that did not intend for the killing to take place and did not have the requisite mental state for the crimes.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. A coconspirator can be held liable for criminal offenses committed by a coconspirator if those offenses are foreseeable and in furtherance of the conspiracy.

    Facts. The Defendant and 4 others retrieved guns from a car and proceeded to shoot over 30 bullets into a passing Ford Bronco. An 8 year old boy was killed. Defendant was convicted of murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder and carrying a pistol without a permit.

    Issue. Whether the principals of vicarious liability can be extended to the case at bar.

    Held. Affirmed.
    The principle of vicarious liability can be extended to coconspirators. A conspirator may be held liable for criminal offenses committed by a coconspirator if those offenses are within the scope of the conspiracy, are in furtherance of it, and are reasonably foreseeable as a necessary or natural consequence of the conspiracy.

    An overt act in furtherance of the crime contemplated by the conspiracy is an act that can attributed to all.


    Discussion. The rationale behind vicarious liability is that the coconspirator played a necessary part in setting in motion a course of criminal conduct and thus should be held responsible. This doctrine had been criticized as imputing liability on a coconspirator for any thousands of additional offenses. The Court ruled that imposing this liability has limits and that there are factual situations where the nexus between Defendant’s role and the illegal conduct is so far removed that liability would not be appropriate.


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