Month: July 2015

Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorney

Accomplice Liability

Accomplice Liability

Utah Code 76-2-202 states, “Every person, acting with the mental state required for the commission of an offense who directly commits the offense, who solicits, requests, commands, encourages, or intentionally aids another person to engage in conduct which constitutes an offense shall be criminally liable as a party for such conduct.”

Under the law in Utah, you can be held liable whether you “directly commit the offense” or if you are the person who, as an accomplice, “solicits, requests, commands, encourages, or intentionally aids another person” to engage in criminal conduct.  In Utah the statute makes no distinction in criminal liability between the accomplice and the person directly committing the offense, the penalties imposed for each can and after are the same. Criminal attorney salt lake city

Accomplice Liability

For further clarification consider the following example.

Adam creates a plan to steal from a local store, he likes to golf and has no money to pay for more golf balls.  Adam explains the plan to friend Brad, and asks best friend Brad to drive him to the store and wait in parking lot while Adam enters to steal golf balls.  Brad is bored on Friday night and decides that the plan sounds good, and agrees to drive Adam. Brad gets his car, and drives with Adam to the store. Brad waits in the parking lot while Adam enters the Store.  Adam grabs as many golf balls as he can in his arms and runs out to the parking lot. Adam jumps in the car, and shouts “I got the balls. Let’s go golfing.” Brad then drives away with Adam. Best criminal defense lawyer
In this scenario, Adam “directly committed” the robbery, and most likely would be charged with a class B or class A misdemeanor Theft (depending on the price of the golf balls).  Brad did not enter the store, did not grab the golf balls, and did not make any distractions to aid in Adam’s flight.  However, Brad shared the orignal intent that the crime was a good idea and should be committed, and by acting as the getaway driver Brad “intentionally aided” Adam to engage in conduct that constituted the offense of theft.  As such, Brad is equally liable as an accomplice for the charge of theft. Attorneys in salt lake city


Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorney
Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorney

Lets change the facts:

Adam and Brad are in the store together. While in the store, Adam conceives of a plan to steal golf balls, but says nothing to Brad about  his diabolical plan. While Brad is engaged in conversation with a clerk (thus occupying the clerk’s attention), Adam grabs as many golf balls as he can in his arms and runs out to the parking lot. Brad knows nothing about what Adam has done. Adam and Brad leave the parking lot together in Brad’s car. Ogden criminal defense attorneySalt lake city criminal lawyer

In this scenario, Brad has no knowledge of Adam’s intent or plan.  If he does have the necessary intent (i.e., does not intend to assist Adam in committing a retail theft), then even though his conduct ultimately did assist Adam in being able to successfully commit the crime, Brad would not be guilty as an accomplice.

Changing facts again, while in the store Adam tells Brad about his plan, and asks Brad to act as a lookout. Adam tells Brad to cough three times if he sees anyone coming. Brad agrees to act as the lookout, while Adam begins grabbing golf balls. It turns out that all of the staff are on lunch breal, and no one sees what Adam is doing. Brad does not have to give any warning signals. Salt lake city criminal lawyer

In this scenario, Brad did not come up with the plan.  Brad did not solicit, request, or command Adam to commit the theft.  Because no one was around, Brad’s assistance was unnecessary. But a prosecutor may still argue that Brad’s agreement to help, together with his presence and willingness to assist as a lookout if needed, acted to “encourage” Adam to commit the theft. Thus, even this limited involvement could still result in Brad being found criminally liable for Adam’s conduct. Utah criminal defense attorney

For additional questions or for a free consultation contact one of our attorneys today.   See also these relevant Utah Statutes:

Utah Code 76-2-105 – Transferred Intent

Accomplice Liability

Domestic Violence in Utah

Domestic Violence in Utah

In Utah, a person commits domestic violence by committing (or attempting to commit) any crime involving violence, physical harm, or the threat of violence or physical harm against a cohabitant.

Cohabitants include spouses; former spouses; people in relationships that resemble marriage; people who live together or have lived together; people who are related by blood or marriage; and people who have children together.

Cohabitants must be over the age of 16 or emancipated minors. Siblings under the age of 18 and parents and their children are not cohabitants of one another.

Utah Code §§ 77-36-1

Any violent crime, such as harassment, stalking, violating a restraining order, or assault, is domestic violence if committed by one cohabitant against another.

People who are convicted of crimes of domestic violence in Utah more than once are subject to increased punishment for subsequent offenses.

(Utah Code § 77-36-1.1.)

Arrests for Domestic Violence

Under Utah’s laws, if a police officer has probable cause to believe (a reasonable belief) that domestic violence has occurred, the officer must make an arrest without a warrant or issue a citation (ticket).

This is an exception to the usual rule that an officer can make a warrantless arrest only under certain conditions–when a misdemeanor has been committed in his presence, or he has reason to believe a felony has occurred and the arrest is outside the home.

If the officer has probable cause to believe the victim will continue to be in danger or that the defendant has recently caused serious injury or used a dangerous weapon, the officer must make an arrest and take the defendant into custody.

People who are arrested for domestic violence may not personally contact the victim before being released and may not be released from jail before the next court day unless they are ordered as a condition of their release not to:

  • personally contact the victim
  • harass the victim, or
  • go to the victim’s residence.

Contacting the victim before being released or in violation of a court’s order is a crime.

People who are arrested for domestic violence may also be subject to electronic monitoring.

(Utah Code §§ 77-36-2.2, 77-36-2.5.)