acting in concert

Through “acting in concert,” a person can face the entirety of the legal consequences of a crime that they only had a small part in.  What does that mean? Let’s give a serious example … You can be convicted of murder even if you are not the one that killed anyone, as long as you were legally found to be part of the process that led to that murder.  How? By a finding that you were acting in concert with another.

In this blog, we will talk about acting in concert and what it means.  Like all of our blogs, this is intended to be for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense attorney.

What is acting in concert?

In North Carolina acting in concert is covered under pattern jury instruction 202.10, which states that “for a defendant to be guilty of a crime, it is not necessary that the defendant do all of the acts necessary to constitute the crime. If two or more persons join in a common purpose to commit a crime, each of them, if actually or constructively present, is guilty of the crime, and is also guilty of any other crime committed by the other in pursuance of the common purpose to commit the crime, or as a natural or probable consequence thereof.


  • Two men get together with the intention of committing a series of armed robberies (for the sake of the example, we will call them Bruce and Larry). Bruce has no intention of killing anyone, he is just trying to make some money. During the robberies however, Larry ends up shooting someone who was resisting the robbery and that person ends up dying.

In this example Larry is guilty of first degree murder, under the felony murder rule, and Bruce is guilty of first degree murder because he was acting in concert with Larry, even if Bruce didn’t pull the trigger and never intended on anyone getting hurt.

This is because in a criminal trial, the jury will be instructed to find both defendants guilty, through acting in concert.

How is this different from accomplice liability?

This rule is in some ways similar to aiding and abetting, and conspiracy however, typically those charges carry consequences that are a level lower than the underlying crime that it centers around, while acting in concert carries the full force and all the consequences of the underlying crime. Simply put, acting in concert is much more serious, because the defendant is treated the same way he wouldn’t have been if he committed the crime completely on his own. 

There are also several other differences and nuances to consider that contrast quite a bit with accomplice liability. Hiring an attorney for a consultation would be the best way to gain a full understanding of all of these differences. This blog is simply not sufficient for all the information surrounding this legal theory.

Like just about everything else in involving criminal law, acting in concert can be a very complicated subject that requires expertise to navigate through and properly defend. If you have been charged with a crime, contact us. At Gilles law, we handle state and federal crimes in North Carolina and South Carolina.

DISCLAIMER – This forum is intended for general questions and comments about the particular law or topic. Comments are public and are not protected by confidentiality or attorney-client privilege; therefore, they can be used against you in court. Please refrain from revealing your identify or specifics about any actual criminal case. No attorney-client relationship is created in this forum.

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