Long ago it was ruled settled law that all who aid, abet,
procure, or advise the commission of a crime are guilty as
principals. United States v. Snyder, 14 F. 554, 556
(C.C.Minn. 1882). This is the rule whether the crime is created
by statute or by the common law. Id. When Congress
creates a statutory criminal law it must be assumed that it is
done with the aforestated well-settled rules of law in view, and
if so, with the intent that aiders and abettors, as well as the
actual doers of the crime, may be punished under it. Id.
The rule that all procurers and abettors of statutory offenses
are punishable under the statutes, even though not expressly
referred to in the statute, is supported by authority.
Learned Hand, in his written opinion in United States v.
Peoni, 100 F.2d 401, 402 (2d Cir. 1938), reviewed the history
of common law of accessory liability. He noted that the early
definitions demanded that the accessory associate himself in some
sort with the venture, that he participate in it as in something
that he wishes to bring about, and that he seek by his action to
make it succeed. Id. Judge Hand noted that all the words
used, even the colorless "abet," carry on implication of
purposive attitude towards it. Id. The word "abet" is a
French derivation of two words meaning "to bait." Blacks Law
Dictionary 5 (6th ed. 1990). It is defined as "[t]o encourage,
incite, or set another on to commit a crime. Id.
Judge Hand's pronouncement of the elements of aiding and
abetting were reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in Nye & Nissen
v. United States, 336 U.S. 613, 619, 69 S.Ct. 766, 769-70, 93
L.Ed. 919 (1949). There, the court stated that the theory of
aiding and abetting is well ingrained in the law. Id.,
386 U.S. at 618, 69 S.Ct. at 769.
Though a conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 2, is based on an
aiding and abetting theory, those convicted as aiders and
abettors are deemed responsible as principals. See
Standefer, 447 U.S. at 19, 100 S.Ct. at 2005; United
States v. Lyons, 53 F.3d 1198, 1201 (11th Cir.), cert.
denied, __ U.S. __, 116 S.Ct. 262, 133 L.Ed.2d 185 (1995).
[updated October 1998]