Synonymous Terminology Used to Designate a Person Who Committed a Crime
February 20th, 2015


PC 31 and PC 971 use the use the word “principal” to designate a person who may be liable to be convicted for committing a crime. However, some cases use descriptive words such as “participant” or “confederate.” And, some jury instructions (e.g., CC 373, CC 402, CC 415, CC 540C, CC 541C, and CC 563) refer to a “coparticipant” which is defined as including the “perpetrator or anyone who aided and abetted the perpetrator.” In this context, “these terms are synonymous.” (People v. Smith (2014) 60 Cal. 4th 603, 620, fn. 2.) They “refer to any principal in the crime, whether a direct perpetrator or aider and abettor.” (Ibid.)

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