23 Jul Extended Joint Criminal Enterprise
What is extended joint criminal enterprise and why is it important?
Extended joint criminal enterprise is a legal doctrine which says that if two or more people embark on a joint criminal plan each will be liable for the crimes the others commit while the plan is still afoot, which the person foresaw as a possibility.
It sounds complicated, and sometimes it can be; but it’s easiest to explain with an example.
Suppose two people, Mr Red and Mr Green, decide to rob a bank together. Mr Red is going to be the getaway driver and is never going to enter the bank. Mr Green is going to go in to the bank and commit the robbery. The criminal law says that both Mr Green and Mr Red are guilty of the robbery through the doctrine of joint enterprise, even though Mr Red didn’t enter the bank.
This is joint enterprise in its simplest form, but it can be expanded to increase criminal liability. This is the doctrine of extended joint criminal enterprise.
Suppose in the above example Mr Green is going to use a gun to threaten the people working in the bank. It is not part of the plan that Mr Green shoot anyone, but Mr Red forsees as a possibility that Mr Green may shoot someone in the course of the robbery with the intention to either kill them or cause them really serious bodily harm.
If Mr Green does then shoot someone with that intent and kills them, both are guilty of murder. Mr Green is guilty because he committed the actual murder, and Mr Red is guilty of the murder under the doctrine of extended joint criminal enterprise even though he never intended for anyone to get hurt and never even entered the bank.
Extended joint criminal enterprise is imporant because it can render people liable for crimes that they never intended to commit.
There are many examples in the criminal law of people who with their friends engage in fights with another group of people, and someone from the other group is killed. Even though many of the people present never wanted to cause anyone any serious harm, they can end up facing charges for murder or manslaughter despite not having hit anyone themselves.