Aiding and abetting is a common law theory of criminal liability. A person who is an aider and abettor may be guilty of the principal offense even though he or she did not personally commit the action(s) or omission(s) constituting the principal offense. In other words, an aider and abettor may be criminally liable for the criminal action(s) or omission(s) of another person.
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What are the Elements of Aiding and Abetting?
In order to convict the Defendant of aiding and abetting and the principal criminal offense, the State must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- Someone other than the Defendant committed a criminal offense;
- The Defendant was present at the scene of the crime or was close enough to provide assistance to the other participant(s); and,
- The Defendant willfully participated with the intent to make the crime succeed.
Note: In order for the Defendant to be convicted as an aider and abettor, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the underlying crime, including that the crime was committed by someone other than the Defendant.
Note: The principal perpetrator of the criminal offense need not be convicted, however, to convict the Defendant as an aider or abettor.
Common Examples of Aiding and Abetting
The Getaway Driver
In State v. Williams, 397 Md. 172, 197, 916 A.2d 294, 309 (2007), the Defendant was convicted as an aider and abettor for driving his two cohorts to the scene of the crime and waiting for them in a nearby parking lot. Likewise, in the case of McBryde v. State, 30 Md. App. 357, 352 A.2d 324 (1976), the Court held that the persons who dropped off the perpetrator of a robbery and waited in the getaway car were constructively present during the commission of the crime.
In Camphor v. State, 233 Md. 203, 196 A.2d 75 (1963), the Court found that the simultaneous arrival of two suspects at a store, the distraction of a salesperson by one suspect and his signaling to the other, and the departure of the two men together was sufficient to support an inference that the suspects acted in concert.
In Thomas v. State, 2 Md. App. 502, 507, 235 A.2d 777, 780 (1967), the Court found that a person who keeps watch for the police or other people who may alert law enforcement to the crime at a convenient distance during a robbery is an aider and abettor.
Experienced Towson, MD Criminal Defense Attorney
Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Towson, MD criminal defense attorney if you have been accused of aiding and abetting the commission of a crime. During your initial consultation, you will meet with an attorney to discuss the facts of your case, explore options and possible defense strategies, and evaluate the strength of the State’s case.