Complicity

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Complicity

 

in criminal law, the intentional joint participation of two or more persons in the commission of a crime.

A crime involving complicity presents a greater social danger, since it may do especially appreciable harm to the interests of the state and to the rights and legal interests of citizens and since it makes it easier for the accomplices to conceal the traces of their crime. For complicity to be present, the accomplices in the crime must act in common and have had a common intent. Complicity may involve a prior agreement or no prior agreement.

Soviet criminal law distinguishes between two kinds of complicity, depending on the relationship between the accomplices and on each one’s role in the commission of the crime. In simple complicity, all participants in the crime perform the same intentional activity—for example, all take part personally in a murder. In complex complicity, the different accomplices—perpetrator, organizer, instigator, and accessory—perform different functions. In both simple and complex complicity, punishment is assigned to each according to the degree and character of participation in the commission of the crime.

Criminal law also provides for special forms of complicity, such as organized groups and criminal societies—for example, a gang or an anti-Soviet organization. The commission of a crime by an organized group is deemed an aggravating circumstance. For the members of criminal societies, criminal liability results not only from the criminal act itself but also from the very fact of joining such a society (seeBANDITRY).