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Joint Criminal Enterprise In NSW

joint criminal enterpise building

Joint Criminal Enterprise (JCE), is a legal doctrine that plays a significant role in criminal law, particularly when multiple individuals are involved in committing a crime. This concept, known by different names in various jurisdictions, including “common purpose” or “common design,” is used to hold all participants accountable for the actions of their co-conspirators.

 

In New South Wales, the doctrine of Joint Criminal Enterprise operates to establish the liability of individuals acting in concert to commit a crime. In this comprehensive guide, we will look into the principles of Joint Criminal Enterprise in NSW, how one can withdraw from such an enterprise, and the notion of extended joint criminal enterprise.

 

If you have been arrested by NSW Police, it is important to know your legal rights to silence and not speak to the police.

Understanding Joint Criminal Enterprise in NSW

Joint Criminal Enterprise refers to a situation where two or more individuals collectively plan and commit a crime, and each participant shares a common intention to achieve a particular criminal outcome. This doctrine holds that all members of the group are equally responsible for the criminal actions committed by any participant within the enterprise. The key elements that must be established to prove Joint Criminal Enterprise in NSW include:

 

Agreement

 

There must be a common agreement or understanding between the participants to commit the crime. This agreement can be explicit or implied.

 

Common Intention

 

All participants must share the same criminal intent, aiming to achieve a specific criminal outcome.

 

Actus Reus

 

Each member must have participated in some way in the criminal act, either by actively committing the offence or aiding, abetting, or encouraging its commission.

 

Mens Rea

 

The participants must possess the requisite criminal state of mind, intending to achieve the criminal outcome.

A common single charge in NSW that adopts the principles of joint criminal enterprise. The legislation provides;

 

CRIMES ACT 1900 – SECT 93T

 

Participation in criminal groups

 

93T Participation in criminal groups

 

(1) A person who participates in a criminal group is guilty of an offence if the person–

(a) knows, or ought reasonably to know, that it is a criminal group, and

(b) knows, or ought reasonably to know, that his or her participation in that group contributes to the occurrence of any criminal activity.

: Maximum penalty–Imprisonment for 5 years.

(1A) A person who participates in a criminal group by directing any of the activities of the group is guilty of an offence if the person–

(a) knows that it is a criminal group, and

(b) knows, or is reckless as to whether, that participation contributes to the occurrence of any criminal activity.

: Maximum penalty–Imprisonment for 10 years.

(2) A person who assaults another person, intending by that action to participate in any criminal activity of a criminal group, is guilty of an offence.

: Maximum penalty–Imprisonment for 10 years.

(3) A person who destroys or damages property belonging to another person, or threatens to destroy or damage property belonging to another person, intending by that action to participate in any criminal activity of a criminal group, is guilty of an offence.

: Maximum penalty–Imprisonment for 10 years.

(4) A person who assaults a law enforcement officer while in the execution of the officer’s duty, intending by that action to participate in any criminal activity of a criminal group, is guilty of an offence.

: Maximum penalty–Imprisonment for 14 years.

(4A) A person who participates in a criminal group whose activities are organised and on-going by directing any of the activities of the group is guilty of an offence if the person–

(a) knows that it is a criminal group, and

(b) knows, or is reckless as to whether, that participation contributes to the occurrence of any criminal activity.

: Maximum penalty–Imprisonment for 15 years.

(5) For the purposes of this section, an action is taken to be carried out in relation to a law enforcement officer while in the execution of the officer’s duty, even though the law enforcement officer is not on duty at the time, if it is carried out–

(a) as a consequence of, or in retaliation for, actions undertaken by that law enforcement officer in the execution of the officer’s duty, or

(b) because the officer is a law enforcement officer.

(6) To avoid doubt, for the purposes of this section a person may participate in a criminal group whether or not the person is a member of the criminal group.

How Does Someone Withdraw from a Joint Criminal Enterprise?

Once an individual becomes involved in a Joint Criminal Enterprise, they may have second thoughts or wish to disassociate themselves from the criminal activity. In NSW, withdrawal from a Joint Criminal Enterprise is a complex legal issue and can have varying implications depending on the specific circumstances of the case. There are generally two ways a participant can attempt to withdraw:

 

  • Complete Withdrawal, that is, if an individual completely withdraws from the Joint Criminal Enterprise before the commission of the crime, they may avoid criminal liability for the actions of the other participants. To establish complete withdrawal, the individual must demonstrate that they took substantial steps to prevent the crime from occurring. This could include notifying the authorities, warning potential victims, or otherwise actively working to prevent the crime.
  • Abandonment, that is, if a participant decides to abandon the criminal endeavour after it has commenced but before the crime is completed, the legal implications become more complex. Abandonment may be considered as a mitigating factor during sentencing, potentially leading to a lesser punishment. However, abandonment does not absolve the individual of all liability for their initial involvement in the criminal enterprise.

It is essential to understand that withdrawal or abandonment may not always be a defence against all charges related to the Joint Criminal Enterprise. The individual may still face liability for other offences committed before their withdrawal or for their initial participation in planning the crime.

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Extended Joint Criminal Enterprise In NSW

Extended Joint Criminal Enterprise is a legal doctrine that expands the scope of liability beyond the original criminal objective. It allows for the prosecution of participants for additional offences that were not initially agreed upon but were reasonably foreseeable consequences of the original criminal plan. In NSW, the doctrine of Extended Joint Enterprise has been a subject of considerable legal debate and has led to significant court decisions.

 

The case of R v Azzopardi (2001) NSWCCA 1, is a notable example of the application of Extended Joint Criminal Enterprise. In this case, the Court of Criminal Appeal held that an individual involved in a robbery could be held responsible for the murder of a bystander that occurred during the course of the robbery. The court reasoned that the murder was a foreseeable consequence of the robbery and that the defendant should have been aware of the risk involved in committing the crime.

 

The principle of Extended Joint Criminal Enterprise raises challenging issues concerning the scope of foreseeability and the level of intent required to attribute liability for additional offences to be criminally responsible for other offences. It is crucial for the courts to carefully consider the facts of each case and strike a balance between holding individuals accountable for their actions and avoiding unjust outcomes.

 

Joint Criminal Enterprise is a complex legal doctrine that plays a crucial role in attributing liability to individuals involved in planning and committing crimes collectively. In NSW, the doctrine requires establishing an agreement, common intention, actus reus, and mens rea among the participants. It is essential to recognise that participation in a Joint Criminal Enterprise can lead to substantial legal consequences, and withdrawal or abandonment from the enterprise may not fully absolve an individual of their liability.

 

Extended Joint Criminal Enterprise, on the other hand, expands the scope of liability beyond the original criminal objective, holding participants accountable for additional offences that were reasonably foreseeable consequences of the original plan. The application of this doctrine requires careful consideration of the specific circumstances of each case to ensure fairness and justice in the criminal justice system.

 

As the law evolves and court decisions shape the application of Joint Criminal Enterprise in NSW, legal professionals, academics, and policymakers must continue to engage in thoughtful discussions to strike the right balance between accountability and justice in criminal cases involving multiple participants.

 

If you have been charged with offences in NSW under the principles of joint criminal enterprise. Speak to one of our criminal lawyers in Liverpool. We will provide you legal advice regarding a range of serious indictable matters before the NSW Courts.

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