Accomplices: A Theory of Joint Intention

22 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2017 Last revised: 21 Jun 2019

See all articles by Nicholas Almendares

Nicholas Almendares

Seton Hall Law School

Dimitri Landa

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Date Written: March 8, 2018


An accomplice is held criminally liable for the acts of another. Yet, the circumstances under which this liability should apply remain unclear owing to an inconsistent and under-articulated set of doctrines, some departing dramatically from foundational commitments of criminal law. We propose a framework that grounds this area of law in a considered account of joint intention, which preserves the central roles of both mens rea and individual intention in the assignment of criminal liability. A key novel concept in our approach is standing in reserve, which extends the coverage of a joint intention beyond the immediate participants in the primary criminal act and anchors a systematic way of assessing complicity in complex environments.

Keywords: mens rea, intention, criminal law, conspiracy, accomplice liability, complicity

Suggested Citation

Almendares, Nicholas and Landa, Dimitri, Accomplices: A Theory of Joint Intention (March 8, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Nicholas Almendares (Contact Author)

Seton Hall Law School ( email )

One Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102-5210
United States

Dimitri Landa

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

715 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
United States

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