People v. Luparello
187 Cal.App.3d 410, 231 Cal.Rptr. 832 (1987)

  • Luparello was interested in the wherabouts of his ex-girlfriend. He asked his friends to check with a guy named Martin.
    • Luparello told his buddies to get the information “at any cost.”
  • The friends went and confronted Martin, but he didn’t give them the information. So they came back later and shot him dead.
  • Luparello was arrested and charged with murder.
  • The Trial Court convicted Luparello of first-degree murder. He appealed.
    • Luparello argued that he never wanted his friends to kill Martin, he just wanted them to rough the guy up a bit.
    • However, the Trial Court found that he had aided and abetted the crime by encouraging his friends into committing a nefarious act.
  • The Appellate Court upheld the conviction.
    • Luparello argued that he did not have an intent (aka a mens rea) to commit murder. However, the Appellate Court found that was not required.
      • Luparello’s liability was vicarious. “He is guilty not only of the offense he intended to facilitate or encourage, but also of any reasonably foreseeable offence committed by the person he aids of abets.”
  • In a concurrence it was argued that Luparello did not have an intent or even knowledge of the killing. At best, Luparello was criminally negligent in failing to foresee that his friend might kill Martin. Criminal negligence makes one guilty or involuntary manslaughter, not first-degree murder.
    • The concurrence felt that the doctrine was flawed because it gave Luparello the same mens rea as the shooter, resulting in a too severe penalty.
  • Basically, this case says that you can be criminally culpable for the crimes of your associates if you encourage them to act, even if they then take further actions you did not intend.
    • The further actions must be reasonably foreseeable though.
    • “An aider and abettor or co-conspirator is liable not only for those crimes committed by a co-felon which he intended or agreed to facilitate, but also for any additional crimes which are reasonably foreseeable.”
  • Conversely, under the Model Penal Code §2.06(3), a person can only be held criminally culpable for offences “fairly envisaged in the purposes of the association. But when a different crime has been committed, thus involving conduct not within the conscious objectives of the accomplice, then he is not liable for it.”