State v. Gladstone

78 Wash. 2d 306, 474 P.2d 274 (1970)



In order to successfully prosecute an alleged aider and abettor as a principal under RCW 9.01.030, it must be shown that he was in some way connected with the one actually committing the crime by knowingly assisting in perpetrating it and sharing in the criminal intent. "Abet" implies a consciousness of guilt in instigating, encouraging, promoting, or aiding in the commission of the criminal offense.


An undercover agent asked defendant if he would sell marijuana. Defendant replied that he did not have any, but that he knew someone who sold it. Defendant provided the agent with a map and directions to the seller's residence. The agent bought marijuana from that seller, and defendant was charged with aiding and abetting the seller. Other than the alleged conversation of the defendant with the undercover agent and the map, no other evidence was presented that would link defendant with the seller. The trial court convicted the defendant.


Is a mere communication by the defendant with the undercover agent that the seller sells marijuana sufficient to establish the crime of aiding or abetting the seller?




The Supreme Court of Washington reversed the conviction because the evidence did not show that defendant participated in the sale of marijuana or encouraged the seller in any way. If all reasonable inferences favorable to the state are accorded the evidence, it does not establish the commission of the crime charged. That vital element -- a nexus between the accused and the party whom he is charged with aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime -- is missing. No evidence of any prior conduct, arrangements or communications between defendant and the seller from which it could be even remotely inferred that the defendant had any understanding, agreement, purpose, intention or design to participate or engage in or aid or abet any sale of marijuana by the seller. The state did not even establish that the seller and the defendant were acquainted with each other. Although an aider and abettor need not be physically present at the commission of the crime to be held guilty as a principal, his conviction depends on proof that he did something in association or connection with the principal to accomplish the crime. Besides, it would be a dangerous precedent to hold that mere communications to the effect that another might or probably would commit a criminal offense amount to an aiding and abetting of the offense should it ultimately be committed.

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