The state of South Carolina recognizes a legal theory called accomplice liability and it is often described as “the hand of one hand of all.” The hand of one hand of all applies when there are accomplices to a crime acting together.
The Supreme Court of South Carolina in State v. Kelsey, held that “if a crime is committed by two or more persons who are acting together in the commission of a crime, then the act of one is the act of both.” Where two or more combine together to commit an unlawful act, such as robbery, and, in the execution of that criminal act, a homicide is committed by one of the actors, as a probable or natural consequence of the acts done in pursuance of the common design, all present participating in the unlawful undertaking are as guilty as the one who committed the fatal act. See State v. Crowe.
Essentially this means that anyone who was involved in a crime acting with accomplices can be charged with the additional crimes committed by other members in the group as if they committed those crimes themselves. It is very broad and gives the government great power to charge all accomplices with the most serious offenses committed despite what role you played. Because of this it is critical that you consult a Charleston Criminal defense lawyer to defend your case.
The Hand of one is the hand of all typical cases
Being charged under the hand of one theory often occurs in cases involving armed robbery where the driver of the vehicle to the crime scene never stepped outside of the vehicle and there accomplice shot someone during the commission of that crime. Even though the driver did not have a gun, did not pull the trigger, or even see the shooting take place they can be charged with the shooting offense because they were part of the principal crime of armed robbery. This means you could be charged with attempted murder or even murder even though you never possessed a gun.
Another typical scenario is during a drug deal gone bad where someone is robbed and or shot during the drug deal, again you can be charged with the crime of armed robbery, attempted murder, or murder if the additional crimes occurred during the original drug deal.
Is there a defense to the Hand of one is the hand of all?
What isn’t accomplice liability?
- Mere association with one who committed the crime, or
- Mere presence at the scene.
State v. Kelsey, 331 S.C. 50, 502 S.E.2d 63 (1998).
Mere presence at the scene of a crime is not enough to indict one as a principal, unless there is a legal duty to act. State v. Johnson,. However, presence at scene of crime by prearrangement to aid, encourage, or abet in perpetration of crime constitutes guilt as a principal. State v. Hill.
The hand of one requires that the additional crime must be a “probable or natural consequence” of the original offense. Because of this, you need to retain a lawyer that can review the facts of your particular case.
Mt. Pleasant Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have have been charged with a crime based on the hand of one hand of all, call today at (843) 530-7813 to speak with an experienced Charleston criminal defense attorney about your case, the consultation is free and all discussions are confidential.