Aiding and Abetting California Case Law

The California Supreme Court has said, "The requirement that the jury determine the intent with which a person tried as an aider and abettor has acted is not designed to ensure that his conduct constitutes the offense with which he is charged. His liability is vicarious. Like the conspirator whose liability is predicated on acts other than and short of those constituting the elements of the charged offense, if the acts are undertaken with the intent that the actual perpetrator's purpose be facilitated thereby, he is a principal and liable for the commission of the offense." (People v. Croy (1985) 41 Cal. 3d 1, 12, fn. 5, 221 Cal. Rptr. 592, 710 P.2d 392, followed in People v. Padilla (1995) 11 Cal. 4th 891, 920, 906 P.2d 388 and People v. Nguyen (1993) 21 Cal. App. 4th 518, 530 opinion of this court.) "Aiding and abetting is one means under which derivative liability for the commission of a criminal offense is imposed. It is not a separate criminal offense." (People v. Francisco (1994) 22 Cal. App. 4th 1180, 1190, 27 Cal. Rptr. 2d 695.) It follows inexorably from these principles that in California, "It is . . . recognized that an aider or abettor cannot be guilty of a greater offense than the principal offender." (People v. Williams (1977) 75 Cal. App. 3d 731, 737, 142 Cal. Rptr. 704; see People v. Antick (1975) 15 Cal. 3d 79, 89, 123 Cal. Rptr. 475, 539 P.2d 43; People v. Petruzo (1910) 13 Cal. App. 569, 577, 110 P. 324; People v. Sidelinger (1908) 9 Cal. App. 298, 299, 99 P. 390.)