Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Utah
Call Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah
Call Utah Criminal Lawyer
Veteran Criminal Defense Lawyer / Former Prosecutor
Call 801-449-1409 now to see what the right attorney can do for you.
Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer Salt Lake City

Criminal Defense Solutions Start HereSM

Contact Us

Utah Criminal Defense - Salt Lake Criminal Attorney

Utah Code 76-2-202 - Accomplice Liability

Under Utah criminal law, a defendant charged, convicted, and punished for a crime, regardless of whether the defendant committed the crime directly or as an accomplice. Under Utah's accomplice liability statute, criminal responsibility and consequences can be the same both for the direct commission of a crime or for the conduct of another person.

Utah Code 76-2-202 states, "Every person, acting with the mental state required for the commission of an offense who directly commits the offense, who solicits, requests, commands, encourages, or intentionally aids another person to engage in conduct which constitutes an offense shall be criminally liable as a party for such conduct."

The statute provides criminal liability equally both for the person who "directly commits the offense" as well as the person who, as an accomplice, "solicits, requests, commands, encourages, or intentionally aids another person" to engage in criminal conduct. Because the statute makes no distinction in criminal liability between the accomplice and the person directly committing the offense, the penalties imposed for each can potentially be the same.

Consider the following hypothetical examples involving accomplice liability for criminal conduct.

Example: Accomplice Liability for Bank Robbery

Adam concocts a plan to rob a bank. Adam explains the plan to Brad, and asks Brad to drive him to the bank and wait outside while Adam goes in to commit the robbery. Brad decides that the robbery plan sounds good, and agrees to help Adam. Brad gets his car, and drives with Adam to the bank. Brad waits in the parking lot while Adam enters the bank. Adam waives a gun in the air, demands money from the teller, grabs the cash, and runs out to the parking lot. Adam jumps in the car, and shouts "I got the money. Let's get out of here." Brad then drives away with Adam.

In this scenario, Adam has "directly committed" the robbery, and could be charged with a first-degree felony aggravated robbery (for using a weapon in the commission of a robbery). Brad did not enter the bank, did not demand money, and did not use a weapon. But Brad shared the intent that the crime should be committed, and by acting as the getaway driver Brad "intentionally aided" Adam to engage in conduct that constituted the offense of aggravated robbery. Thus, Brad is equally liable as an accomplice for the charge of aggravated robbery.

Example: Accomplice Liability for Drug Possession

The following hypothetical drug deal is somewhat more complex, and involves multiple possibilities:

Chad is struggling with drug addiction, and asks his friend Darren to go purchase some marijuana for Chad. Darren does not know where to buy marijuana in Utah, so Chad makes a phone call to his favorite drug dealer and asks the dealer to meet Darren at the corner gas station. Darren goes down to the corner gas station at the appointed time, meets with the drug dealer, and buys a half-ounce of marijuana.

In this scenario, Darren is guilty for directly committing the misdemeanor crime of possession of marijuana. Chad never touched the marijuana or otherwise had possession of marijuana. But Chad may also be convicted of marijuana possession as an accomplice, because he "requested" that Darren commit the offense.

This scenario presents also presents the possibility of felony charges against both Darren and Chad for possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance. Because Darren was purchasing the drugs for Chad, it appears that Darren intended to turn the marijuana over to Chad once the transaction was complete. Thus, when Chad took possession of the marijuana, he likely had the "intent to distribute" the drugs by giving them to Chad. Even though Darren did not have possession of the drugs and did not have the intent to distribute the marijuana after he received it from Chad, he could again be charged as an accomplice for asking Darren to commit the crime on his behalf.

Under this scenario, there is an additional charge that could be filed against Chad, based on Chad's phone call to his drug dealer. Utah law prohibits not only the actual distribution of a controlled substance, but also offering or arranging to distribute a controlled substance. By making a phone call to his favorite dealer, Chad is likely guilty of the felony crime of "arranging" the distribution of a controlled substance.

Example: Accomplice Liability for Shoplifting (Retail Theft)

Consider the following alternate scenarios involving allegations of shoplifting:

Two friends, Erin and Flo, are in a store together. Erin conceives of a plan to steal merchandise from the store, but says nothing to Flo about the plan. While Flo is engaged in conversation with a clerk (thus occupying the clerk's attention), Erin slips merchandise into her pocket. Flo knows nothing about what Erin has done. Erin and Flo leave the store together, without paying.

In this scenario, Flo has no knowledge of Erin's intent or plan. If she does have the necessary intent (i.e., does not intend to assist Erin in committing a retail theft), then even though her conduct ultimately did assist Erin in being able to successfully commit the crime, Flo would not be guilty as an accomplice.

This time, Erin tells Flo about her plan, and asks Flo to act as a lookout. Erin instructs Flo to whistle twice if she sees any employees coming. Flo agrees to act as the lookout, while Erin begins stuffing merchandise in her pockets. It turns out that all of the employees are on the other side of the store, and there is no one there to see what Erin is doing. Flo does not have to give any warning signals.

In this scenario, Flo did not come up with the plan. Flo did not solicit, request, or command Erin to commit the theft. Because the employees were not nearby, Flo's assistance (or aid) was unnecessary. But a prosecutor may still argue that Flo's agreement to help, together with her presence and willingness to assist as a lookout if needed, acted to "encourage" Erin to commit the theft. Thus, even this limited involvement could still result in Flo being found criminally liable for Erin's conduct.
 

Choosing a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake Defense AttorneyA criminal charge can have serious consequences, whether you are convicted for directly committing the crime or as an accomplice. The processes involved in defending a criminal charge can be complex. Having the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney can be critical to achieving a successful outcome.

Utah criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has protected his clients' rights in thousands of serious felony and misdemeanor cases. His track record includes not guilty verdicts and dismissals in some of the most serious charges on the books in Utah.

Based in Salt Lake City, Mr. Howard provides legal services to clients throughout Utah. If you are facing criminal charges, contact us today to arrange for a confidential consultation.

RELATED CRIMINAL CODE SECTIONS


Best Rating
Make a Payment to Your Account
Get Help Now
** All fields are required. **
Name: Email: Phone: Describe your legal needs here:
I accept the disclaimer below.
Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is established by the use of this form. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be submitted through this form. By clicking 'submit' I am only requesting that I be contacted for the purpose of obtaining legal services.

This form protected by reCAPTCHA.

  • Selected Victories
  • Criminal Defense AttorneyDismissed - Charges of insurance fraud were brought when investigators found reason to believe that client's claim of injury was fraudulent. Client was seen kicking a soccer ball, and investigators concluded that the injury claim was false. By obtaining medical records and other administrative records, and by pointing out to the prosecutor that the alleged injury interferred with the client's ability to lift - not his ability to kick a ball - the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case.
  • Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony drug distribution charge and potential life in prison. Charges were based on allegations that client had sold drugs to an undercover police officer, then made a full confession. Successful mitigation work resulted in negotiated offer of misdemeanor plea-in-abeyance and ultimate dismissal of case.
  • Utah Expungement Attorney Expungement - Worked to restore client's expungement eligibility through 402 reduction process, then filed successful expungement petitions in multiple courts obtaining expungement orders and clearing client's official criminal history.
  • Felony Attorney Utah Dismissed - Client facing first-degree felony charge and possible life in prison for child kidnapping. Full defense analysis of the case revealed critical legal flaws in the prosecution's case. When confronted with the defense legal analysis, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case outright without trial.
  • Recent Posts
  • What Constitutes Drug Parpahernalia in Utah How is drug paraphernalia defined in Utah? - The definition of drug paraphernalia under the Utah criminal code looks at both the nature of the object and also the intended use of the object in question. . . .
  • Utah Misdemeanor Attorney Salt Lake Can I handle a Utah misdemeanor from out-of-state? - Even if you do not intend to take your case to trial, a misdemeanor criminal offense in Utah can require multiple court appearances to reach a resolution. If you have been charged with a crime in Utah, but are not a Utah resident, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you resolve the case without returning to the state. . . .
Best Criminal Defense Strategy

You want the best defense. Agressive is good. But results ultimately are what really matter. Creating an effective strategy for defending against criminal prosecution requires a thorough understanding of statutes, case law, and evidentiary and procedural rules. A successful outcome is more likely when....

Strategy »
Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney Profile Utah

Defending against a criminal prosecution in Utah is a job that has to be done right the first time. Choosing the right attorney to defend you can be the most important decision you make. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling some of the most serious felony and misdemeanor charges on the books in Utah. No matter what charges you are facing, we can help....

Experience »
Conviction Consequences - Utah Criminal Defense

In Utah, even a "minor" misdemeanor conviction carries the potential for jail time and significant fines. A felony conviction carries the potential of lengthy prison terms and the various consequences that come with being labeled as a convicted felon. Never plead guilty without first finding out....

Consequences »
Utah Criminal Attorney - Reasons to Hope

An arrest is not a conviction. If you are facing criminal prosecution in Utah, it can feel like your world is collapsing. But there are things you can do right now that can increase your chances of a good outcome. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you evaluate the various options available to you and help develop a strategy for success....

Reasons to Hope »
Home | Attorney Profile | Case Results | Criminal Code | FAQ | Legal Resources | Defense Strategy | Contact Us

Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

The materials in this website are intended for informational purposes only, and are not legal advice. Viewing or responding to materials in this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Read Full Disclaimer.