The writer examines the requirement of intention in the law of complicity. This requirement means that a secondary party (S) must intend his or her actions to encourage or help a principal party (P) to commit a particular crime. In cases where the accountability of an actor for the harmful consequences of his or her actions turns on whether he or she caused them, recklessness as to the occurrence of the consequences is sufficient to make the actor criminally liable. The writer discusses why the situation should be different when the consequences take the form of the criminal actions of another; considers whether reckless aiding or encouraging the crime of another can ever be an acceptable basis for holding S criminally liable; and examines three main considerations behind the law's general requirement that S's help or encouragement of P's crime be intentional—culpability, the policy of not subjecting lawful practices to excessive risk, and an ethic of individualism and self-determinism—and whether these are incompatible with recklessness as an alternative basis of complicity liability.

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Criminal Law Commons



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