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Hicks v. United States

From lawbrain.com

United States v. Hicks, 150 U.S. 442 (1893), was criminal law case heard by the United States Supreme Court involving murder and accomplice liability.

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Summary of Case Facts

The defendant, Hicks, was present when another man, Rowe, shot a man dead after a conversation. Hicks did not assist in the commission of the crime, but was merely present to witness the act. Hicks then rode off with Rowe on horseback away from the murder scene. Hicks was indicted as an accomplice to murder and convicted.


May a person who witnesses a murder but who do not aid, abet, or assist the commission of the murder be convicted as an accomplice of that crime?

Holding and Law

No. An accomplice must have intent; the accomplice must intentionally aid, abet, or encourage the perpetrator of the crime in order to be convicted. Despite testimony that Hicks stated to the victim before he died, “Take off your hat and die like a man,” the court determined the utterance to be too ambiguous to be construed as either encouragement or evidence of a prior agreement or conspiracy.

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