Law School Case Brief
Hawpetoss v. State - 52 Wis. 2d 71, 187 N.W.2d 823 (1971)
The elements of complicity, or aiding and abetting are that a person (1) undertakes conduct (either verbal or overt action) which as a matter of objective fact aids another person in the execution of a crime, and further (2) he consciously desires or intends that his conduct will yield such assistance.
Defendant conceded that he was guilty of the crime of theft of a watch valued at $ 10. He argued, however, that the evidence did not establish that he was guilty of theft of property taken from the person of another, under Wis. Stat. Ann. § 943.20(3)(d)(2), so as to justify the substantially higher penalty. Both parties agreed that if defendant's conviction was to be upheld, it was on the basis of conspiracy or aiding and abetting. The Circuit Court convicted defendant for theft from a person, which the Supreme Court affirmed.
Was there sufficient credible evidence to support the defendant's conviction on the charge of theft from a person?
Another person removed the watch from the victim while he was unconscious. The offense had not been completed until defendant asported the watch away. Both would have had to know that they were in the act of committing a crime when they did the acts alleged. The evidence supported such a finding. The victim was unconscious when the other person removed the watch, defendant took it and pawned it. In knowingly performing that act with knowledge of the other person's actions, it could be found that he intended to render assistance in knowingly committing the crime of taking property from a person. This was particularly so in light of the victim's testimony that he passed out after being given a soft drink.
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