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Robert A. Ciuffa, Attorney at Law
9306 Olive Boulevard
Saint Louis, MO 63132
Phone: 314-219-1906
Toll Free: 888-745-2635
Fax: 314-997-4324
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Aiding and Abetting

This legal term is stated in Missouri statutes and charging documents as "acting with another" or "acting with others". The term aiding and abetting is typical in law school and in some other states.

Either phrasing simply means that if you assist or aid another in the commission of a crime you are as guilty as they are. The body of laws defines what exactly is assisting or aiding and a few distortions develop in practice.

An exaggerated extension of "aiding and abetting" is the Felony Murder Doctrine. Under this doctrine when a murder is committed in the course of a dangerous felony (e.g. Armed Robbery) everyone involved in the commission of the felony is guilty of the murder. For example, the getaway car driver in a three man robbery is guilty of the murder committed in the course of the robbery by one of his cohorts even if he had no I intent to murder anyone. The fact that the driver was only driving the getaway car and didn't actually rob or kill anyone doesn't save him; first of all he was aiding and abetting the robbery and the felony murder doctrine saddles him with responsibility for the murder. Any saving grace for the driver can only lie in persuading judge, or jury, or prosecutor of his lack of criminal intent for either the robbery or the murder. Did he even know what his buddies were doing?

More often than not the defendant is left trying to prove his lack of criminal intent. This is the central task of any defense for an "aider and abettor" and the experience of defense counsel is essential to its success.

In the area of stealing or theft offenses, especially shoplifting, aiding and abetting is used to snare the actual thief's companion(s). Suppose your son or daughter goes to the mall with friends one of whom actually shoplifts. The unwitting "standing around" by your child can and has led to being charged with aiding the thief. While the state or city or county has the burden of proof, your child has the risk of non-persuasion; that is, they are placed in the position of convincing the judge (or jury) that they were truly just standing around and not aiding the thief.

Should you find yourself or a loved one charged "aiding and abetting" or "acting with others" in a crime, choose your defense counsel carefully. Experience is essential to persuasion.

Saint Louis attorney, Robert A. Ciuffa, represents people throughout the metropolitan St. Louis region, in communities such as: St. Francois County, Jefferson County, Lincoln County, Madison County, St. Charles County, St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis, Ballwin, Bel-Nor, Bel-Ridge, Bella Villa, Bellefontaine Neighbors, Bellerive Acres, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Breckenridge Hills, Brentwood, Bridgeton, Calverton Park, Charlack, Chesterfield, Clayton, Cool Valley, Country Club Hills, Crestwood, Creve Coeur, Des Peres, Ellisville, Eureka, Fenton, Ferguson, Florissant, Frontenac, Glendale, Hazelwood, Kirkwood, Ladue, Manchester, Maplewood, Marlborough, Maryland Heights, Normandy, Olivette, Overland Park, Pacific, Pine Lawn, Richmond Heights, Rock Hill, St. George, St. John, Shrewsbury, Sunset Hills, Town and Country, University City, Uplands Park, Valley Park, Velda Village, Vinita Park, Warson Woods, Woodson Terrace, the City of St. Charles, St. Peters, O'Fallon, Wentzville, Leadington, Park Hills, Hillsboro, and Byrnes Mill.