Sean Taylor, the Washington Redskins all pro safety recently shot and killed in his home during the course of a burglary, was shot by only one of the four individuals arrested in connection with the crime. However, all four men can be charged with murder in the course of the burglary, which in some states, Texas especially, can be a Capital Crime; that is, a death penalty case. While it is unlikely that all four will face such charges, the law of principals can make all four men responsible for the consequences of the initial crime of burglary.
One youth claims only to be along for the ride. None claim intent to kill anyone, and only one man acually shot the victim. This is very common in criminal defense cases. It is entirely possible that no one, even the shooter, expected a death to result from this home burglary. Nevertheless, they were in somone’s home in the middle of the night without the owner’s knowledge or consent, and whatever happens after that is on them.
It is every parent’s nightmare that his or her child will be “in the wrong crowd” when something serious occurs, and will be arrested and face criminal charges as the result of another person’s actions. Many highway stops result in multiple charges involving only a small amount of drugs found in a car occupied by three or four young people, all of whom are charged. Many times all the evidence has to show is knowledge that the drugs were there. This can be proven by direct evidence, or circumstantial evidence.
In Federal Court, powerful Conspiracy laws can bring in many defendants, some of whom don’t even know each other and have no idea of another person’s participation in the conspiracy. A single “overt act”, on the part of an individual can bring him or her to Federal Court facing many months or years in prison.
(Expand more on degrees of criminal responsibility.) How they may be charged.