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33 Law & Phil. 1 (2014)

handle is hein.journals/lwphil33 and id is 1 raw text is: Law and Philosophy (2014) 33: 1-40                       © Springer 2012
DOI 10.1007/s10982-012-9168-8
(Accepted 2 December 2012)
ABSTRACT. Courts and commentators are notoriously puzzled about the mens rea
standards for complicity. Accomplices intend to aid, but what attitude need they have
towards the crimes that they aid? This paper both criticizes extant accounts of the
mens rea of complicity and offers a new account. The paper argues that an intention
can commit one to an event's occurrence without committing one to promoting the
event, or making it more likely to take place. Under the proposed account of the
mens rea of complicity, an accomplice must have an intention that commits him to
the crime's occurrence, but need not commit him to making it more likely that the
crime occurs. The paper traces the implications of this view both for several difficult
complicity cases, and for ongoing debates among philosophers of action about the
necessary and sufficient conditions of joint agency.
Regno wanted some counterfeit bills. Instead of making them him-
self, he bought some from Peoni. Peoni knew that Regno would
either use the bills to try to buy something from some unsuspecting
citizen, or else sell them to some other crook who would, in turn,
either try to pass them off as real or sell them. As it happened, Regno
did just what Peoni did: he sold them as counterfeit bills to Dorsey.
Dorsey tried to pass them off as real, and was arrested. He was easily
convictable for the crime of possession of counterfeit bills. Peoni was
charged as Dorsey's accomplice in the possession. Rather than pro-
ducing evidence that Peoni himself possessed the bills, that is, the
United States' government produced evidence that Peoni helped
Dorsey to possess them.' Peoni was convicted at trial as Dorsey's
' It is a bit unclear why the government chose this route. I suspect that they lacked evidence that
Peoni had ever been in possession. Perhaps Peoni had arranged for the bills to be delivered to Regno
without ever having been in possession of the bills himself. Or perhaps there was enough evidence of
that possibility to generate reasonable doubt that Peoni had ever been in possession.

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