Pleading General Crimes and Theories of Liability

Questions frequently arise about the requirements to charge the various types of general crimes like attempt, conspiracy, and accessory. A related question is whether the theory of liability, such as acting in concert or aiding and abetting, must be specifically pled. For defenders new to felony work, it can come as an unwelcome surprise to discover the jury is being instructed on an unexpected theory not identified in the pleading. This post lays out the basics for pleading general crimes and theories of liability of participants in the crime and links to the jury instructions for each.

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Accessory after the Fact: A Recent Decision Creates Confusion

Suppose John Jones shoots Victim. Sam Smith, who had nothing to do with the shooting, witnesses the event. In order to help Jones escape and avoid prosecution, Smith drives Jones from the scene to a hideout. Victim dies the next day. Can Smith be convicted of accessory after the fact to the murder? According to … Read more