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Old 02-05-2020, 04:01 PM   #11
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,949
Default Re: Where to ask questions about US crimina law?

There are a lot of potential criminal liability issues wrapped up in the story you are describing. First, as a real-world matter, no prosecutor is ever going to rely upon or even take the word of a "cooperating witness" at face value mostly because criminals in that situation have a strongly vested interest in lying.

For myriad reasons -- not just to conceal their own culpability in god knows what other criminal activity but (more often, imo) because the informant is uniquely positioned to turn the vast resources of law enforcement on the competition. And if the cops can ultimately secure a conviction of any warm body for an unsolved murder, well they might not always be sticklers for minor points like factual innocence or guilt. Maybe your C.W. rats out some guy who didn't do this one but you know he was probably up to his neck in five other hits so . . . hazards of the profession.

But more pertinent to the legal issues, inchoate crimes (attempt, solicitation, and conspiracy, i.e., the crime is in the asking) carry the same maximum penalty as the underlying offense that the defendant endeavored to complete. So ultimately it doesn't really matter whether X or Y was the actual triggerman in Z's murder. If X attempted to kill him but failed, the punishment would still be the same as if he'd succeeded. Similarly, if Y paid X to be the hitman, Y's on the same hook as X for Z's murder. If Y and X conspire to murder Z, even if Y's involvement was as minimal as giving X access to the property where the deed was going to be done, Y is just as culpable as X.
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