In most American jurisdictions, accomplice liability requires a mens rea of intention with respect to the conduct that constitutes the principal’s commission of the crime. Scholars have criticized the intention requirement on the ground that some accomplices, such as those who were paid upfront for their assistance, do not care whether the principal’s criminal conduct occurs and therefore do not intend to bring it about that the principal’s criminal conduct occurs. This Article defends the intention requirement against this criticism. Drawing on insights from the philosophy of action, it argues that all who are genuinely complicit in a crime, including those who were paid upfront for their assistance, do intend to bring it about that the principal’s criminal conduct occurs. The Article then critiques the alternative mens rea standards that scholars have proposed as replacements for the intention requirement. Finally, the Article explains why its argument supports the use of intention requirements in torts and areas of criminal law other than accomplice liability. It concludes that the law should resist calls to jettison intention as a condition for criminal and civil liability.
Charles F. Capps,
101 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol101/iss3/2