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Criminal Resource Manual

2475. Intent

The intent requirement for aiding and abetting has been described in different ways. One court has ruled that it must be shown the defendant intentionally became involved in the substantive crime. United States v. Perry, 643 F.2d 38, 46 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 835, 102 S.Ct. 138, 70 L.Ed.2d 115 (1981). Another court has stated the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant wilfully associated himself in some way with the criminal venture. United States v. Indelicato, 611 F.2d 376, 385 (1st Cir. 1979). Another has said the charge of aiding and abetting requires proof that the defendant had a purposeful attitude. United States v. Crow Dog, 532 F.2d 1182, 195 (8th Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 430 U.S. 929, 97 S.Ct. 1547, 51 L.Ed.2d 772 (1977).

According to the Ninth Circuit, the state of mind required for conviction as an aider and abettor is the state of mind required for the statutory offense. United States v. Valencia, 907 F.2d 671, 677 (9th Cir. 1990). However, the District of Columbia has ruled that an aider and abettor need not have the exact same intent as the principal, and the finding of overlapping intent between the accomplice and principal is sufficient to establish liability. United States v. Washington, 106 F.3d 983, 1004 n.32 (D.C. Cir.), petition for cert. filed, (July 29, 1997) (No. 97-5423). Similarly, the Fifth Circuit states that the essence of aiding and abetting is the community of unlawful intent between the aider and abettor and the principal. United States v. Murray, 988 F.2d 518, 522 (5th Cir. 1993). Although the aider and abettor need not know the means by which the crime is carried out, he must share in the requisite intent. Id. In order to show share d intent, the government must present evidence that the accomplice had knowledge he was furthering the crime. United States v. Loder, 23 F.3d 586, 591 (1st Cir. 1994). The term "shared intent," similar to "community of unlawful intent," means that the accomplice associated with a criminal venture and sought by his action to make the venture succeed. United States v. Parekh, 926 F.2d 402, 407 n.9 (5th Cir. 1991).

All courts seem to agree that aiding and abetting requires specific intent, also described as "purposive attitude." United States v. Kelton, 446 F.2d 669, 671 (8th Cir. 1971).

[updated October 1998]