Abetting refers to the act of actively assisting or encouraging another person to commit a crime. It is the laws of conspiracy. For instance, two friends, X and Y, plan to rob a bank where X works. According to the plan, X, a bank cashier, and an insider will provide the bank vault or safe combination to Y to rob the bank.
Even though Y will commit the actual robbery and X will only assist him, X is guilty of abetting in a crime. The law classifies X as an accomplice. Interestingly, X does not necessarily need to be physically present at the crime scene to be guilty of the offense. In most cases, there is more than one accomplice with different levels of involvement and criminal accountability.
The court must consider the criminal accountability of the specific parties involved in the crime. Typically, some parties only support or encourage the commission of the crime without any direct involvement. Others are directly involved without committing the crime. The prosecution needs to differentiate how the different parties assist the perpetrator in committing the crime and prosecute accordingly.
United Arab Emirates (UAE) Law on Abetment of Crime in Criminal Law
Abetment Of Crimes and related violations, including aiding, are criminal offenses under the UAE Penal Code. Federal Law Number 3 of 1987 regarding the Penal Code provides several situations under which a person can be classified as an accomplice, including:
- If the person abets or aids a crime that occurs following their actions
- If they collaborate with others to commit a crime and such a crime occurs following the criminal conspiracy
- If they encourage, assist, or facilitate the preparation or completion of a crime. The facilitation may include intentionally providing the necessary weapons or tools for the perpetrator to commit such a crime.
Accordingly, abetting in crime in UAE law treats an accomplice the same way it treats the perpetrator, including penalizing them. Essentially, an accomplice is liable to a similar punishment as the actual perpetrator. According to Article 47 of the Penal Code, a person found at the crime scene is an accomplice by causation. In contrast, any person directly involved in the planning of the crime is a direct accomplice even when not physically present at the crime scene.
The law governing conspiracy for abetment of crimes provides several instances where it classifies an individual as a direct accomplice or as a criminal act or law in the UAE, including:
- If they commit the crime with someone else
- If they assist or participate in a crime and deliberately commits one of the several acts of the crime
- If they aid or intentionally help another person commit such an act, even where the other person escapes liability for whatever reason.
The law also provides instances where it classifies a person as an accomplice by causation, including:
- If they encourage or incite another person to commit a crime
- If they are part of a criminal conspiracy involving a group of people and the conspired crime occurs as planned
- If they provide a weapon or a tool to assist a perpetrator in committing a crime
Unlike a direct accomplice, an accomplice by causation has to be at the scene of the crime. Unless the law states otherwise, the court treats both an accomplice by causation and a direct accomplice similarly, including penalizing them as the actual perpetrator.
However, the prosecution must determine whether an accomplice by causation had criminal intent. Where the prosecution cannot prove that the person found at the crime scene intended to commit a crime, the person will escape liability as an accomplice. Essentially, proving criminal intent in cases involving accomplices by causation is critical by the law governing conspiracy for abetment of crimes.
However, the potential exemption of liability or punishment for a suspected accomplice is not applicable or transferable to the other accomplices in the crime. Generally, every accomplice is prosecuted individually and per their specific role in the criminal act. However, if convicted, they all face similar punishment. Typically, punishment for an abettor in the UAE includes imprisonment or detention.
Establishing an Accomplice Criminal Intent in Abetment Of Crimes
Despite the complication of prosecuting an abetment case, the court’s primary interest is establishing an accomplice’s criminal intent and whether their abetment is a probable cause of the criminal act. In the UAE, the law punishes any person guilty of abetting in crime similarly and as a perpetrator regardless of their role in the criminal act.