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Defending an Allegation of Complicity in Colorado Criminal Courts

A person does not have to actually physically commit a crime in order to be guilty of the crime itself.  Acting as the principal in the commission of a crime is, of course, one way to be guilty of a crime.  There are other theories of guilt as well, however.

Two common theories of guilt, occurring when a person does not actually commit the intended crime itself, are attempt and conspiracy to commit the main crime.  These are called inchoate crimes.

Complicity is another theory by which a person can be guilty without physically committing the actual crime himself or herself.

A person is legally accountable for the actions of another if, with intent to promote or facilitate the commission of the offense, he or she aids, abets, advises, or encourages the other person in committing the offense.

To be a complicitor, the person must have knowledge that the principal intends to commit the crime, must intend to promote or facilitate the commission of the offense, and must aid, abet, advise, or encourage the principal in the commission or planning of the crime.

Merely driving the getaway car after seeing the crime occur, when the driver had no idea the crime would occur or intention that the crime would be committed, is not sufficient in Colorado to make the getaway driver a complicitor.  Mere presence and association are not enough.

However, waiting at a nearby location for a crime to occur, speeding away after the crime occurs at the request of the person who committed the crime, while driving a car with stolen license plates has, in a past Colorado case, been deemed sufficient to establish complicitor liability.

If a person is held liable as a complicitor to a crime, that person is said to be guilty of the exact same crime, and not a lesser crime, as the person who actually physically committed the crime.  The possible penalties, by statute, for the complicitor are exactly the same as they would have been if the complicitor had actually committed the crime itself.

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