Joint Criminal Liability

Table of Content


This assignment aims to analyze lesser criminal liabilities leading up to stronger criminal liabilities for all parties involved in a possible conviction of murder by focusing on the major subjects of contending and procuring, aiding and abetting, accessory liability, improper violent death, dangerous bodily injury resulting in death, and causing.

Joint Criminal Liability between Andy, Matthew & Jimmy

Are both Andy and Matthew equally responsible as principal wrongdoers for the purpose of dividing criminal liability?

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

Criminal Liability

A person who commits acts which form whole or part of the actus reus of the offense is known as a ‘principal in the first degree’: Osland V R (1998) [1].

It can be inferred from the facts that both Andy and Matthew were present at the scene to carry out a joint criminal enterprise: Tangye (1997) [2], as there was an express agreement: Tangye (1997) [3] made between the two to capture the directors of large supermarkets in their homes and force them to return to their supermarkets and open the safes.

From the facts, it cannot be established that derivative liability exists between the two or that any failure to adhere to such actions is present: Osland V R (1998) [4]. Instead, an “acting in concert” may create the effect of equally placing responsibility on each individual for the acts of the other: R V Lowery and King (No.2) (1972) [5].

Both Andy and Matthew may be charged with conspiracy under S.321 to commit an offense, but does this extend to Jimmy?


Andy proposes his plans to Matthew, who agrees to take part in the robberies for a percentage of the proceeds. Under S.321 of the Offenses Act 1958, this agreement made between Andy and Matthew resulted in the involvement and commission of the offense, hence may lead to a finding of guilt in conspiracy to commit that offense. Does this apply to Jimmy’s level of involvement?

Actus Reus

Conspiracy has been defined as “an agreement to do an unlawful act or a lawful act by unlawful means”: R V Jones (1832) [6]. There is clearly no question of difference that both Andy and Matthew decided that the best way of making quick money was to execute the agreed-upon criminal act.

To establish a breach of s.321, it may be inferred that Jimmy’s behavior of providing a “safe house” deliberately perverted the course of justice or intended to corrupt the administration of public justice: James v. Robinson (1963) [7], hence making Jimmy an accomplice in the commission of a crime.

Work mens rea

The application of both Andy and Matthew’s knowledge and understanding of Section 321 of the Criminal Code, which deals with conspiracies, is evident from the facts of the case. The issue at hand is whether a charge of conspiracy is as effective as more substantial charges that are available, such as in Hoar v R (1981) [8].

Jimmy can be found guilty under the equally applicable charge if it is proven that the provision of the “safe house” was a promotion of the common intent, as stated in R. v. Tripodi (1955) [9]. As a result, he may be held liable as an accessory to Andy and Matthew’s primary offenses due to his involvement in guiding and securing them.


The scope of mens rea that clearly applies to Jimmy is problematic. “A conspiracy is proved by evidence of the actual terms of the agreement made or accepted or by evidence from which an agreement to effect common objects or intentions can be inferred” (Gerakiteys v R (1984) [10]).

There is no evidence of the actual terms of the agreement before the act, or of any common object to the commission of the offense by Jimmy, as seen in R v Theophanous (2003) [11]. The mere provision of a “safe house” only provides an inference for a jury to draw upon after the fact of Jimmy’s degree of engagement. In this light, the evidence may fall short of establishing a clear degree of involvement, as seen in R v Darby (1982) [12].

Due to the possible gray area in establishing Jimmy’s intent to pervert the course of justice, there is a possibility of acquittal under section 321 if the inference of the open act itself is not proven beyond reasonable doubt, aligning common intent against other substantive criminal acts, as seen in R v Darby (1982) [13].

Can both Andy and Matthew be charged with Burglary, and does this extend to Aggravated Burglary?


Andy and Matthew may be guilty of burglary for breaking into Joe’s home as intruders with an intention to assault both Joe and Betty.

Actus Reus

As seen in the facts, both Andy and Matthew’s actions in breaking into Joe’s home may satisfy the elements of trespass and building for the purpose of burglary.

Mens Rea

Based on the facts, their actions were done knowingly without permission with a firm intention to commit an assault, as seen in R v Collins (1972) [14].

Aggravated Burglary

If burglary can be established between Andy and Matthew, they may also be found guilty of aggravated burglary due to carrying firearms at the time of their entry, and entering with an intention to commit an assault.

Actus Reus

Both Matthew and Andy entered Joe’s home intending to assault him, and they were carrying loaded handguns at the time of their entry. As there is no evidence on the facts to suggest that Joe was not present in his home, the jury may infer that he was, as seen in R v Verde (2009) [15].

Mens Rea

Based on the facts, both Andy and Matthew intended to threaten to cause harm to a person inside the home if they were disturbed during the burglary, as seen in R v Verde (2009) [16]. They also had the firearms for a purpose connected with the burglary, although it was for armed robbery, as seen in R v Kolb & Adams (2007) [17].

“Matthew may besides be charged with extortion with a menace to kill.

Extortion with menace to kill:

Furthermore, on the above aggravated burglary charge, this may be coupled with Matthew’s menace to kill Betty, which may conflict with S.27A & B regarding extortion with a menace to kill.

Actus Reus:

Matthew clearly made a demand of Betty to lie down on the floor and stay silent, or he would kill her, leaving Joe fearing for his life and that of his wife if they did not submit: R V Lawrence (1980) [18].

Mens Rea:

Based on the facts, Matthew’s purpose to threaten to kill was an attempt to create fear of the imposition of harm: Ryan V Cuhl (1979) [19].

Is Andy liable for the common law offense of false imprisonment against Betty?

False imprisonment:

Andy may be liable for the criminal offense of false imprisonment due to improper restraint and threats to both Joe and Betty.

Actus Reus:

As we can see from the facts, Andy dragged Betty into another room, binding her hands and feet with rope and taping her mouth shut in order for her not to scream, clearly unlawfully depriving Betty of her autonomy and freedom of movement, further restricting her into the detention of one room: Ruddock V Taylor (2005) [20].

Mens Rea:

Andy had a clear purpose to unlawfully detain Betty against her will as a result of his threats to kill her and Joe if they did not comply: R V Garrett (1988) [21].


There is little to no likelihood that Andy may raise a defense of lawful justification for his actions based on the facts: Blackstone [22].

Andy’s Liability:

Is Andy liable for conflicting S.22 & 23 of the Crimes Act 1958 regarding Betty’s unborn child?

Conduct jeopardizing life/Reckless behavior jeopardizing serious hurt:

Andy may be charged as a result of voluntarily engaging in the conduct of detaining Betty without lawful excuse that may have placed her unborn child in danger of death: S.22 & 23.

Actus Reus:

It can be clearly established that Betty whimpered that she was 7 months pregnant. Nevertheless, Andy voluntarily and recklessly continued without lawful excuse to assault and detain her, thereby causing possible serious harm by way of abortion to Betty’s unborn child: R V Crabbe (1985) [23].

Mens Rea:

Using the test in Ryan V Walker (1966) [24] for the possible death by way of abortion to Betty’s unborn child, the jury may infer that this possibility was contemplated by Andy as a result of his continued restraint and threat to kill. Furthermore, evidence of Andy contacting authorities alluded to his realization and contemplation of danger or serious harm.”

Defense Mechanisms:

There may be a minimum defense mechanism to debate the purpose on Andy’s behalf to put Betty’s unborn child in danger by subsequently contacting the governments; furthermore, no death occurred, hence the actus reus of the effect failed to happen: R v NuriI (1990) [25].

However, a determination on the continuance of Betty’s restraint at the time of the offense may weigh more heavily against Andy’s contemplation: R v Crabbe (1985) [26]. It must also be noted that in R v Hutty (1953) [27], a person is not a being until he or she is fully born in a live state; nevertheless, R v West (1848) [28] negates this and still establishes homicide if a child is born and later dies.

Does Andy’s usage of stolen license plates constitute larceny for the purposes of s.72(1) s.73(5) & s.73(12)?


Andy may be charged with larceny by the act of stealing or venally allowing another individual’s license plates with the purpose of permanently stripping them from the owner.

Actus Reus:

Clearly, Andy was unauthorized to allow or physically take and transport off another individual’s tangible property: The King v James Lapier (1784) [29]. In this case, the tangible property was license plates for the committee of the offense.

Mens Rea:

It may be inferred that Andy had a specific purpose to venally deprive s.73(12) the owner of rightful ownership of the license plates for his own right to use: Stein v Henshall (1976) [31]. Moreover, this can be strengthened by the lack of consent: R v Senese (2004) [32].

Are both Andy and Matthew liable for kidnapping Joe under S.63a?


Andy and Matthew may be liable for demanding Joe to drive to the supermarket to deliberately open the safe for their advantage in return for his release.

Actus Reus:

On the facts, we can clearly see that Joe’s personal autonomy or freedom of choice was removed, primarily by way of a threat to kill unless he complies: Wellard v R (1978) [33]. Second, this was performed by Joe being carried off in the form of a car by Andy and Matthew. Third, this was achieved by force without consent. This may be inferred by a jury as his wife, Betty, was clearly in an injured state. Fourthly, at no point was there any justified lawful excuse: R v D (1984) [34].

Mens Rea:

Andy and Matthew both shared the purpose of having to perform the kidnapping to fulfill their common intent of executing the robbery.

Did the actions of Joe opening the safe constitute a criminal offense under s.9AG?


Joe may not be found guilty of a criminal offense regarding the opening of the safe under duress due to a threat to kill Betty.

Actus Reus:

Based on the facts, a threat of immediate death was made towards Betty unless both remained compliant. Joe was clearly overborne by this indirect threat, which led to his will being placed under duress. Moreover, serious personal force overbearing his ability to resist or no chance to maintain control may lead to a strong justification for his actions of opening the safe: Attorney-General V Whelan (1934) [35].

Mens Rea

Clearly, Joe had no intention to perform this criminal offense if he was not under duress. His will was overborne with fear for his life and that of his wife.


Joe has a strong case in establishing duress: R v Brown (1986). [36] Furthermore, a jury may conclude that carrying out the behavior was the only reasonable way that the threatened harm could have been avoided. s.9AG. (B)

Are both Andy and Matthew guilty of committing Robbery/Armed Robbery conflicting s.75 and s.75A?

Robbery/Armed robbery

Both Andy and Matthew, as accessories, may be equally guilty of robbery for stealing the contents of a safe by force through Joe by means of fear with the use of weapons.

Actus Reus

Joe was aware of the theft and was later compelled by force or fear to comply with Andy’s demands to open the supermarket and safe. This coercion by force or threat establishes robbery under s.75. The use of a weapon establishes armed robbery for the purpose of s.75A(1), enabling the two to permanently deprive the owner of the safe and its contents. It is clear that Joe, being the supermarket manager, fulfills s.75A(1) as the applicable person or keeper of the property in this case: Smith v Desmond (1965) [37].

Mens Rea

It is clear that Andy and Matthew intended to put Joe under duress by the use of a deadly weapon to intimidate Joe to fear for his life and that of his wife.


Regardless of whether Andy believed he had an honorable entitlement by way of his intentions to support the Karen people as a claim for defense, it is unnecessary to prove this: R v Langham (1984) [38]. Moreover, it would not constitute lawful excuse in any case under the Firearms Act (1996) s.132(2).

Third, a claim for military necessity would not apply due to his departure from the SAS and proportionality statements conflicting with multiple international humanitarian law conventions regarding legal use of force. [39]

Andy’s Liability for Joe’s Serious Injuries Sustained

Causing Serious Harm Deliberately

Andy may be charged under s.16 and 17 and s.22 for hitting Joe with a handgun until he became unconscious.

Actus Reus

It may be established, based on the facts, that Joe clearly suffered no less than serious, dangerous bodily injury from Andy’s act of hitting him with a handgun to the point of unconsciousness (DPP v Smith, 1961) [40]. Because this act was in promotion of an offense, it would represent an offense without lawful excuse for the purposes of s.16 of the Offenses Act 1958.

Mens Rea

Andy’s intention to cause serious harm may be established, either through deliberately causing serious harm through the promotion of an offense or, alternatively, through recklessness. (Meyers v R, 1997 [41]). It is also possible that recklessness may be established given the nature of Andy’s training received through the SAS in the continued use of such force, it being reasonably foreseeable that such a consequence may arise (R v Coleman, 1990) [42].

Andy may also be liable under s.22 for recklessly engaging in behavior that puts Joe in danger of death, with the carrying of a gun. It may also be sufficient to be deemed guilty for causing dangerous bodily injury and rear of barrel of s.31a (R v Faure, 1999) [43].

As a likely consequence, he may be deemed just as blameworthy as the behavior of one who does an act intended to kill or to cause serious bodily injury (R v Crabbe, 1985) [44].

Is Matthew Triable as a Principal Offender as an Abettor for his Involvement in the Commission of an Offense under s.323?

Abettors in Chargeable Offenses are Triable as Principal Offenders

Matthew may be charged for assisting Andy at the scenes of the offense and further encouraging and procuring by taking appropriate steps toward the commission of the offense under s.323 of the Crimes Act 1958.

Actus Reus

Matthew, by taking part in the robberies, satisfies the preparation arm or to “abet” in the commission of the offenses (Thambiah v R, 1966) [45]. Second, he “aided” when he broke into the place playing in concert, thus not derivative to the principal offense, and also by carrying loaded handguns and when he threatened Betty and Joe during the subsequent false imprisonment (Osland v R, 1998) [46].

Third, Matthew “counselled” by “keeping nit” and not changing the course of action (R v Whitefield, 1983) [47] while the robbery took place. These actions show the series of steps undertaken in the commission of the offenses representing a breach of s.323.

Mens Rea

Matthew may be found guilty because at no time did Matthew’s intention knowingly or willfully change to the knowledge and acceptance of the pre-formed sequence of events (R v Bainbridge, 1959) [48].

Cite this page

Joint Criminal Liability. (2016, Dec 05). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront