§ 30.07 Limits to Accomplice Liability

§ 30.07 Limits to Accomplice Liability

[A] Legislative-Exemption Rule

A person may not be prosecuted as an accomplice in the commission of a crime if he is a member of the class of persons for whom the statute prohibiting the conduct was enacted to protect. For example, statutory rape laws were enacted to protect young females from immature decisions to have sexual intercourse; legislatures consider her to be the victim of the offense. It would conflict with legislative intent, therefore, if she could be prosecuted as a secondary party to her own statutory rape.145

[B] Abandonment

As with the law of conspiracy,146 many courts hold that a person who provides assistance to another for the purpose of promoting or facilitating the offense, but who subsequently abandons the criminal endeavor, can avoid accountability for the subsequent criminal acts of the primary party.

A spontaneous and unannounced withdrawal will not do.147 Instead, the accomplice must communicate his withdrawal to the principal and make bona fide efforts to neutralize the effect of his prior assistance. For example, one who provides an instrumentality for use in the crime must regain possession of it or otherwise neutralize its effect. Thus, a person who provides a fuse for dynamiting a building, must remove the fuse; and, "if [it] has been set, he must step on the fuse."148 On other hand, one who has offered nothing more than mild encouragement may be able to neutralize his effect by communicating his objection to the crime, unless he provides it at the point at which the event is virtually unstoppable.



[145] In re Meagan R., 42 Cal. App. 4th 17 (Ct. App. 1996) (R cannot legally be an accomplice in her own statutory rape; therefore, she is also not guilty of burglary based on the intent to commit the felony of statutory rape). The legislative-exemption rule is discussed more fully at § 29.09[D], su...

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