Secondary party

Sometimes referred to as accessories or accomplices.

The principal offender will be the person who actually commits the actus reus of the crime. The secondary offender or secondary party will be involved but does not have sufficient liability to be named as a joint principal. It is important to remember that the secondary party (accessory) will be guilty of the main crime and will be liable to the same punishment as the principal. There usually has to be an actus reus and mens rea for the main crime if the secondary party is to be convicted.  In reality a secondary offender is someone who helps or encourages the principal offender either before the offence is committed or at the time it is committed.  A more technical definition can be found in Section 8   of the Accessories and Abettors Act 1861  'Whosoever shall aid, abet, counsel, or procure the commission of [any indictable offence], whether the same be [an offence] at common law or by virtue of any Act passed or to be passed, shall be liable to be tried, indicted, and punished as a principal offender.'  

The Law Commission has recommendations (in their report 'Participating in Crime' 2007)  regarding secondary liability for assisting and encouraging crime but in May 2012 the government decided that whilst they accepted the Commission's recommendations they did not intend to implement them for the time being.

If the main crime has been attempted by the principal the secondary party can be guilty as an accessory to the attempted crime.

It is possible for the secondary party to be convicted despite the principal being acquitted. This would be the case if the actus reus was committed but the principal did not have the necessary mens rea or had a defence that the secondary party did not - Bourne (1952). In this case the defendant's wife had been forced by her husband to commit buggery with a dog. The woman was terrified of what her husband would do to her if she didn't comply. If the woman had been charged Lord Goddard CJ stated that she could have pleaded duress showing that she had no mens rea, her husband could not have used this as a defence. The husband was convicted of aiding and abetting his wife to commit buggery with a dog because he had forced his wife to have connection with a dog and therefore he was guilty.



Liability of Secondary Parties





Before the crime



At the time of the crime




The current law and criticism of the doctrine

Joint Enterprise Law under scrutiny - 'JENGbA campaign group' youtube

CASE SUMMARIES v 29 July 1996 - People - News - The ...

Joint Principals; Aiding; AbettingCounselling; Procuring;  Actus Reus For Secondary Participation; Mens Rea For Secondary Participation





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