Questions and sample solutions on the doctrine of Joint Enterprise in criminal law

Explain the concept of joint enterprise

Joint enterprise is a general concept of criminal law, which has evolved principally through common law.[1] It involves a situation in which two or more offenders are convicted of the same criminal charges regarding the same event, whether each had the same degree of participation in the offence, or one committed the offence with the aid of the other(s).[2] The main parties in this doctrine are the principal and the accessory or secondary party. A principal is a person who commits the substantive element of the offence, that is the actus reus, with the necessary mens rea. An accessory is the second party who aids, encourages or procures the principal to commit the substantive elements of the crime, without necessarily being the principal. However, under section 8 of the 1861 UK Accessories and Abettors Act,[3] a secondary party can be held criminally responsible as a principal.[4] It is trite law that the conviction of…

Discuss general accessorial liability as a type of joint enterprise

General accessorial responsibility is a category of joint enterprise, whereby one party assists, counsels or procures the other to commit a single offence. The one who is assisted to commit the offence carries out the actus reus alone. The first party is only an accessory or accomplice, and need not be present at the scene of the crime.[5] Both parties are, however, liable in criminal law. The one who committed the offence becomes the primary or principal, while the accessory becomes the secondary party. The accessory’s liability depends on whether the principal actually committed the offence. This aspect must be proved. However, the principal does not need to be identified, charged or convicted. The most important factor is the commission of the offence. Additionally, for the secondary party to…

Describe what parasitic liability entails as a type of joint enterprise

This involves a situation where one of the parties commits a second crime. A difficulty arises as to whether the other parties are principals or accessories to the first or second crime. In other words, in a situation where A and B participate together in committing a crime and in that process B commits another offence, which A had anticipated he might commit, will A be a principal or an accessory to the first crime? This is the controversial part of joint enterprise. According to the Crown Prosecution Service, A can be a principal or an accessory to the first crime.[6] A is also criminally responsible for the second offence, but only as an accessory. A’s intention for the second offence to be….

What is the “Fundamental Difference” rule of joint Enterprise

In a nutshell, the fundamental difference rule means that if a principal causes the death of the victim, with the necessary malice aforethought, and the accessory only foresees that the principal’s mens rea is to cause serious injury, the principal’s mental fault does not make his act of killing the deceased fundamentally different from that foreseen by the accessory.[7] Foreseeability of any of them is sufficient intention for murder liability. This rule is…

Explain Evidential Sufficiency Test as a Joint Enterprise Test

In the evidential test, there must be sufficient evidence to provide a practical possibility of conviction. This implies that an objective and impartial judge, properly guided and acting in accordance with the law, is more probable than not to convict based on the evidence presented. This test is premised upon the probative value of the evidence as assessed and presented by the prosecutor, including any information that might be tendered in evidence. A criminal matter which fails to pass through this stage should not proceed, whether or….

Describe Public Interest Test as a Joint Enterprise Test

In some cases, the evidential stage does not automatically lead to prosecution. Thus, public interest is considered to strike a balance of justice between the victim and the offender, for instance by ensuring that the sentence meted out is proportional to the harm suffered. In all cases involving joint enterprise, the prosecution must consider whether, notwithstanding the probative value of the evidence tendered, prosecution is necessary in the best interest of the public.[8] In other words, prosecution will typically suffice unless there are public interest issues tending against prosecution, and which supersede those in favour of prosecution.[9] Although there is a matter of public interest tending against prosecution, the prosecutor may consider whether prosecution may, nonetheless, proceed and the public interest question put to the court for consideration. This usually happens when sentence has been passed. The prosecutor may also consider that public interest will be properly served by….

Identify and discuss the limitation of Joint Enterprise

One of the challenges is that certain aspects of the doctrine of joint liability are very uncertain and complicated, making the doctrine’s application difficult. For instance, it is very cumbersome to show in evidence that there was a common intention to commit offence A, particularly where the offenders just met and there was no explicit indication that they had a premeditated plan. The law regarding the question whether the secondary crime is radically distinct from that anticipated by the secondary party is also unclear and complex. There is no case law which clearly explains why the secondary offender cannot be convicted of a lesser offence, and if that is possible, the circumstances under which such conviction can suffice. The doctrine’s complexity is such that any reform strategies may cause more….










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