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Partners in Crimes

When two or more persons are charged as a principal and an accessory in a criminal partnership, the person charged as an accessory can put up a defence to negate the existence of a criminal partnership.

First, he can present evidence of the absence of a common criminal purpose. If he can present evidence that he was under compulsion, coercion, stress or duress when he assisted or abetted the crime then he negates the existence of a common criminal purpose.

He can provide evidence of innocent agency. He can prove that he did not know that he was assisting in a criminal act. A man is approached by his neighbor who asked him to load up a plasma television into a truck. The man did not know that the neighbor was a thief and that he was moving stolen property. The neighbor then asked the man to help him bring it to a pawnshop.

The man did not know that the pawnbroker was actually a fence. He thought that his neighbor was merely pawning a plasma television he owned. In this case, the man had no criminal intent. He had no intent to assist or abet the commission of a robbery. He did not even know that he had assisted in moving stolen property. He cannot be held as criminally liable as an accessory to the crime of robbery.

Absence of purpose to commit a crime incidental to committing another is also a defence. Two men agreed to commit a robbery in a house. They thought the house was empty of its residents. When they arrived at the hous the teenage daughter of the homeowner was asleep with a cold.

One robber decided to commit the sexual assault, the other told him not to. He drove off from the house with his share of the stolen items, leaving the other while committing the sexual assault. Here there is proof of the absence of a common purpose to commit the incidental crime of sexual assault. Thus, while there may be a criminal partnership for the robbery, there was no criminal partnership for the sexual assault.

Most defences to negate the existence of a criminal partnership depends upon the existence of factual evidence. The defences recognized under the law are not presumptions, they are evidentiary.

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Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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