It is clear from the factual background that A will commit the robbery and others will only assist him in the commission of this crime. Thus, the question raised by the criminal lawyers in Dubai here is to consider the criminal accountability of parties who merely supported in the commissioning of such crime and were not directly involved or parties who were directly involved but did not commit the crime.
These individuals are legally termed as Accomplices who play different roles in assisting the perpetrator in his crime. In the foregoing act, all of them involved in the crime are divided into several categories such as the one who actually committed the crime, the one who encouraged the perpetrator to commit, however, was not present at the sight like D, the one who assist in the escape of the accused and the one who made the plan or who has the knowledge of such criminal act and kept quiet.
The principle of accomplice depicts that an individual can be blamed for a crime committed by another person. The act of accomplice is secondary in nature since there is a lack of direct involvement in the crime, the liability of an accomplice requires an intention to promote or facilitate the perpetrator of an offence. The requirement of intention guarantees that the assistant has a stake in the principal’s actions. Since the accomplice’s cognizant goal is that the crime is committed and thus helps the perpetrator, it is reasonable to hold the accomplice liable for the acts of principal. The reason behind blaming or imposing liability on the secondary actor stem from an inborn sense of justice. As understood in criminal jurisprudence and by experience of Dubai Lawyers that one who willingly participates or assists in the commission of a criminal act is equally liable as that of the one who commits the act and thus, deserves equal punishment. The nexus between liability and penalty is the basis of criminal law and justifies the principle of accomplice liability.
The scenario under UAE Penal Code
UAE Federal Law Number 3 of 1987 regarding the Penal Code (the Penal Law) under chapter 3 provides for the concept of an accomplice or criminal conspiracy. The accomplice is defined under Article 44 of the Law as a person who commits a crime alone or acts as a direct accomplice shall be referred to as perpetrator of the criminal act. However, in order to determine if the accomplice is direct accomplice the following instances must be considered:
- If he perpetrates the crime with another;
- If he assists or participates in a criminal act which is consist of several acts and he intentionally commits one;
- If he aids another person to commit such act and the latter is not responsible for this act for any reason.
In addition to this, an accomplice will be considered as an accomplice by causation in following instances as highlighted under Article 45 of the Penal Law:
- If he instigates the perpetrator to commit a criminal act;
- If he conspires with a group of people to commit an act and which occurred as a result of a conspiracy;
- If he provides a weapon or a tool to the wrongdoer or facilitates the perpetrator in any other way to commit such offence.
A difference can be witnessed between a direct accomplice and an accomplice by causation in the Penal Law. Article 46 of the law, penalizes the accomplice by causation who was present at the site if the crime with an intention shall be considered as a perpetrator itself. However, not every accomplice will be punished, if he proves the lack of criminal intent in the commission of such crime (Article 48). The law penalizes the accomplice either direct or by causation, in accordance with the criminal intention and knowledge of such crime (Article 52).
Defence of the Accomplice
The law in one part holds the accomplice liable for his intention in the commission of such offence and on other part allow him to take his defence on happening of certain event which are described under Chapter 4 of the Penal Law. The foregoing chapter concerns the causes of legitimacy, wherein any individual who is charged under the act of an accomplice can claim defence under the right of legitimacy in performing his duties or under self-defence. Article 53 of the Law states that an act will not be considered as criminal if the act was performed within the limits and the instances are as follows:
- Chastisement by a husband or by parents within the limits of Shariah;
- Performance of medical surgery or medical attendance in accordance with the license provided to the medical surgeon;
- Violence in a sports game according to the rules of the game;
- Accusations exchanged between the litigating parties or their legal representatives;
- A public employee is obliging the orders of the superior employee.
Article 56 of the Penal Law, provides for the right of self-defence and any act committed while exercising the right of self-defence will not be considered as a crime. The law further provides for various instances under which the act will be viewed as a right for self-defence such as in the case where the defender face imminent danger to himself or his property, defender has no recourse to reach out to public authorities, defender does not have any other means to avoid such act, and the act was necessary to avoid the danger.
A fine line of Difference
There is a clear difference between a conspiracy and an accomplice. A conspiracy occurs when two or more people make a plan to commit an offence and a co-conspirator assist in committing a crime, whereas the accomplice assists the perpetrator in committing an act but does not directly commit himself. An accomplice is only liable when the act is committed, whereas the conspirators can even be found guilty to conspire even if the act is not committed.
Any individual is having a criminal intent to commit an offence and assist another by various means either directly or by causation, will be liable for punishment under the criminal as long as his abetment was the probable cause of happening of such criminal act.