Hicks v. United States
150 U.S. 442 (1893)

  • Hicks and Colvard were riding down the street on horseback when they met Rowe. According to witnesses, there was a conversation. Rowe pointed a gun at Colvard a few times. Hicks said to Colvard, “Take off your hat and die like a man.” Then Rowe shot Colvard, killing him.
    • Later, Rowe was killed by the police when they came to arrest him.
  • Hicks was arrested and charged with murder.
    • Hicks argued that he was just an innocent bystander. It was Rowe that shot Colvard.
      • Hicks testified that he thought Rowe was going to shoot them both.
  • The Trial Court convicted Hicks of murder. He appealed.
    • The Trial Court that Hicks had encouraged Rowe into shooting Colvard. That made him guilty for aiding and abetting the crime.
  • The US Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial.
    • The US Supreme Court found that the jury must be instructed that Hicks is only criminally culpable if his words were intended to encourage Rowe. If Hicks had said the words for another purpose, then he is not culpable, even if those words had the effect of encouraging Rowe.
      • Hicks testified that he was trying to convince Rowe not to shoot.
    • The Court found that a person can be guilty of aiding and abetting if they are just present during a crime but provide no aid because aid is not necessary. However, this is only if there was a prior conspiracy between the criminals. There was no evidence here that Rowe and Hicks had a conspiracy, so that jury instruction was flawed.
  • Basically, this case said that encouraging someone to shoot makes you just as guilty of murder as the person who pulls the trigger. However, just being there is not enough, you have to intentionally encourage them.