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Name: People v. Caesar
Case #: D050387
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 10/23/2008

An aider and abettor prosecuted under the natural and probable consequences doctrine cannot be convicted of a greater crime than that of which the principal was convicted. Appellant and co-appellant were charged with, inter alia, several counts of attempted murder stemming from a street fight between two groups of men. Because appellant was not the shooter, he was prosecuted as an aider and abettor under the natural and probable consequences theory. A jury convicted co-appellant of unpremeditated attempted murder, but convicted appellant of premeditated attempted murder. Appellant argued his conviction for premeditated attempted murder had to be reduced to unpremeditated attempted murder because the co-appellant was found to have acted without premeditation. The appellate court agreed. When applying the natural and probable consequences theory, the jury must first make a finding as to the crime committed by the actual perpetrator. It is only after this determination is made that the jury can then consider whether a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would have, or should have known, that the crime committed was a reasonably foreseeable consequence. Since the jury made a finding that co-appellant did not commit premeditated attempted murder, the most appellant can be convicted of under this theory is also unpremeditated attempted murder.