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Oregon Supreme Ct - Feb 16, 2017

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by: Sara Werboff • February 20, 2017 • no comments

Second-Degree Robbery - State Required to Prove that Person Providing Aid to Defendant Acted with Intent to Promote or Facilitate Defendant's Acts

The court concludes that in order to find a defendant guilty of second-degree robbery under ORS 164.405(1)(b) the state was required to prove that the person who aided the defendant acted with the intent to facilitate the robbery. The court further concludes that, in this case, the state proffered sufficient evidence. Defendant was charged with second-degree robbery under the theory that she had committed third-degree robbery and was also aided by another person actually present, specifically, her boyfriend, Thornton. Thornton dropped defendant off at a store. Defendant attempted to remove items from the store and she was followed to the parking lot by two loss-prevention officers. There was a scuffle as defendant got into the car that Thornton was driving and Thornton drove off, nearly hitting one of the officers and hitting a store manager. Defendant argued at trial that she was not aided by Thornton and that state was required to prove that he was her accomplice. The Court of Appeals affirmed her conviction, holding that the state was not required to prove that Thornton knew defendant was committing theft and opining that there is no mental state requirement for the aider.

On review, the court examines the statutory phrase "aided by another person actually present" to determine whether that phrase contains a mental state component for the purported aider. Analyzing the text, context, and legislative history of the phrase, the court concludes that "when the legislature required the presence of a third person providing 'aid' to a defendant, it intended to require the state to prove that that person acted with an intent to promote or facilitate the defendant's acts."

The court then concludes that the evidence was sufficient in this case for a rational factfinder to draw that inference. Thornton knew that defendant was trying on clothes in the store and that she was followed from the store by loss-prevention officers. Defendant's resistance to the officers also permitted a reasonable inference that the officers' claims of theft were valid, as did Thornton's knowledge that defendant was a repeat property offender. And, because Thornton sped away from the store, a factfinder also could infer that he knew defendant had stolen merchandise from the store. Finally, Thornton's own actions of hitting the store manager could have been sufficient in itself to elevate the theft to a robbery.

State v. Morgan, 361 Or 47 (2017) (Walters, J.)