facilitation | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminal Law

In the criminal law context, facilitation refers to the act of providing assistance or resources to facilitate the commission of a crime.

Facilitation, in a criminal law context, is the act of making it easier for someone else to commit a crime. This assistance is not just about taking part in the crime directly but providing resources, information, or tools that make the crime possible.

Different Forms of Facilitation

Facilitation can come in various forms. A person might provide a false identity or counterfeit documents, allowing a criminal to evade detection. They might help to launder money, hiding the illegal gains of a crime. Sometimes, facilitation involves providing a safe house or place to hide for a criminal. Facilitation can also be as simple as offering knowledge about a potential target or giving advice on how to commit a crime more effectively. All these actions are under the umbrella of facilitation because they ease the way for a criminal to carry out illegal acts.

The Role of Intent

Understanding the role of intent is crucial in facilitation. If a person knowingly and willingly aids in a crime, their actions may be considered facilitation. However, if a person is tricked into aiding a crime or is unaware of their actions’ criminal implications, they may not be liable under the law, depending on the jurisdiction. The concept of “mens rea” or guilty mind comes into play here, emphasizing the role of knowledge and intent in determining criminal liability.

Facilitation Vs. Accomplice Liability

Facilitation is often compared with accomplice liability, but they are distinct concepts. An accomplice is someone who directly participates in the crime, such as a getaway driver in a bank robbery. On the other hand, a facilitator assists indirectly, like someone who unknowingly rents the getaway car to the robbers.

Legal Consequences of Facilitation

The legal consequences of facilitation can vary widely. In some jurisdictions, a facilitator might be held just as responsible as the person who committed the crime and faces similar punishments. This accountability reflects the idea that without the facilitator, the crime might not have occurred.

In other places, a facilitator might be charged with a separate crime, such as “aiding and abetting,” with its own set of penalties. This kind of charge acknowledges the facilitator’s role in the crime but also recognizes that they did not directly carry out the criminal act.

Defenses Against Facilitation Charges

People accused of facilitation have several potential defenses. They might argue they were unaware of the criminal’s intentions or unaware of the criminal implications of their actions. They might claim they were forced or coerced into providing assistance. The effectiveness of these defenses can depend heavily on the specific circumstances of the case and the laws of the jurisdiction.

Facilitation Under the Model Penal Code

The Model Penal Code (MPC) is a guideline used to standardize and influence the drafting of criminal laws across different jurisdictions. According to this code, the crime of facilitation falls under the umbrella of “complicity” in criminal activity.

Complicity as Defined by MPC

Under the MPC, complicity involves participating in or enabling a crime in some way. It specifies that if a person with the intention of promoting or facilitating the commission of an offense aids or agrees, or attempts to aid another person in planning or committing that offense, then he or she is guilty of an offense. Facilitation is a form of complicity where an individual provides assistance—willingly or unknowingly—that enables the commission of a crime.

Facilitation and Liability

In terms of liability, the MPC outlines that those guilty of facilitation may be held liable for the crime they facilitated. This liability is similar to the person who committed the crime directly. However, the person’s level of participation and the intent behind their actions play a vital role in determining the severity of their punishment.

Defenses Under the MPC

The MPC also outlines potential defenses against charges of complicity. If a person was unaware that their actions would lead to a crime or if they were forced or threatened into aiding in the crime, they could be excused from complicity. Furthermore, if the accused person withdrew their assistance before the crime was committed and made reasonable efforts to prevent it, they might have a valid defense.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 01/10/2023


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