Accomplice liability refers to what allows a court to find an individual liable for the actions of another person. There are several defenses to the crime of accomplice liability, including duress, foreseeability, withdrawal, no accomplishment, and no crime. This paper discusses withdrawal as well as duress. First, duress requires the accomplice liability to be imposed in a scenario where an individual participates in crime through his/her own will. For instance, take a case where two friends; Joe and Bob goes for a walk at night in a park. While at the park, Joe sees Harry, a guy that beat him up some days ago. Joe then pulls out a gun from his bag and points it on Bob’s head. He then draws out another gun from his pocket and hands it to Bob. Joe tells Bob to shoot Harry, or else he will shoot him. The life of Bob comes to an immediate danger since Joe has pointed the gun on his head. By shooting Harry, Bob is under duress since he does not participate in the crime through his own will. I believe that duress should exist in criminal law because it serves as an excuse that a defendant did not commit a crime from his/her own will but due to physical force or threat (Heim, 2013).
The second defense is withdrawal. Withdrawal occurs when a person has participated in the commissioning of a crime but makes a timely and effective withdrawal from the crime. This means that withdrawal must happen before the commissioning of the crime has progressed to a point it cannot be reversed (Blair, 2018). For instance, Sally and Jessica, two 5-star hotel waitress, plot to kill a certain leader by poisoning his food. The two come up with a plan that will see the person’s food poisoned on his next visit to the hotel. However, on the morning of the crime, Jessica thinks otherwise and informs Sally of her change of mind. Sally, however, goes through with the plan anyway. Jessica cannot be convicted as an accomplice since she tells Sally she was not willing to see the plan through early enough.
Blair, P. (2018). What Are the Defenses of Abandonment and Withdrawal? The Law Office of Peter Blair. Retrieved from https://www.blairdefense.com/defenses-abandonment-withdrawal/
Heim, S. J. (2013). The Applicability of the Duress Defense to the Killing of Innocent Persons by Civilians. Cornell Int’l LJ, 46, 165.
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