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Accomplice Liability - Definitional Issues

At common law, a distinction was made between the perpetrator of a crime, and the perpetrator's accomplices. In this lesson, we examine the common law definitions that applied to accomplices, and modern approaches to complicity, including the Model Penal Code. This lesson is intended for students who have studied these issues in class, and who wish to refine their knowledge and understanding.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the lesson, students will be able to:
1. Quote the common law definitions of the four separate and distinct types of individuals involved in crimes: the principal in the first degree, the principal in the second degree, the accessory before the fact, and the accessory after the fact.
2. Contrast the common law definitions that applied to accomplices and modern approaches to complicity.
3. Explain the definitional issues related to accomplice liability under common law and the Model Penal Code.
4. Explain the legal consequences that attach to those definitional issues.
5. Distinguish the rules relating to the criminal responsibility of accomplices for a misdemeanor and a felony.


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