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Criminal Law

Exam 24

30 minutes

Fact Pattern

A, together with two like-minded associates, B and C, starts a cult bent on ushering in a new age of darkness and despair upon the world. The cult members agree to take celebrities as hostages by holding them at gunpoint. This, in turn, should provide visibility to broadcast the cult’s views on television, striking fear into the hearts of many. In addition to the three founders, the cult has about 50 members.

Six months before the date on which the cult is to take its first hostages, A is arrested while trying to shoplift knives, large candles, and a large bottle of liquor from a local grocery store. He is convicted of theft and sentenced to imprisonment for one year. At first, A writes daily to B and C in code. But after a while, he gets lonely and begins to mingle with the fellow prisoners. Several evangelical prisoners convert A to a peaceful religion, so A renounces his misguided cult beliefs. A writes to C that A is quitting the cult and wants no part in the hostage-taking plan.

On the designated date, the world watches in terror as six low-ranking cult members, under B’s and C’s direction, take politicians, religious leaders, and television stars hostage. Things go awry while the group tries to kidnap a soap opera star. Namely, a cult member, D, shoots the opera star, killing her. B and C are both arrested, and they confess to conspiring with D to take hostages. D is tried and convicted of both kidnapping and murder.

Assume the prosecution can prove the above facts at A’s trial.

In a common-law jurisdiction, A is charged with the murder of the soap opera star. Assume that this jurisdiction recognizes the Pinkerton doctrine. Assume further that an overt act is required for conspiracy liability in this jurisdiction.


  1. Is A liable for murder? Explain, applying only the common law, not the Model Penal Code.

Question 1

Is A liable for murder? Explain, applying only the common law, not the Model Penal Code.