What is the significance of the time at which defendant must have formed the requisite intent to be liable as an aider and abettor?

California, United States of America


The following excerpt is from People v. Montoya, 31 Cal.Rptr.2d 128, 7 Cal.4th 1027, 874 P.2d 903 (Cal. 1994):

In view of the evidence presented and the arguments advanced by the parties, the significance of the precise time at which defendant must have formed the requisite intent in order to be liable as an aider and abettor was not an issue "closely and openly" connected with the case. As we have seen, the prosecution's evidence suggested that defendant knowingly intended from the outset to assist in the commission of the burglary, whereas defendant maintained primarily that he was unaware of the burglary throughout the incident and never intended to facilitate its commission. Under these circumstances, the trial court was under no obligation to sift through the evidence to identify an issue that conceivably could have been, but was not, raised by the parties, and to instruct the jury, sua sponte, on that issue. (See, e.g., People v. Wade (1959) 53 Cal.2d 322, 334-335, 1 Cal.Rptr. 683, 348 P.2d 116 ["[T]he trial court cannot be required to anticipate every possible theory that may fit the facts of the case before it and instruct the jury accordingly. The judge need not fill in every time a litigant or his counsel fails to discover an abstruse but possible theory of the facts. [p] ... [p] ... [The defendant's] theory ... was not one that the evidence would strongly illuminate and place before the trial court. On the contrary, it was so far under the surface of the facts and theories apparently involved as to remain hidden from even the defendant until the case reached this court on appeal. The trial court need not, therefore, have recognized it and instructed the jury in accordance with it. Omniscience is not required of our trial courts."].) The instructions given the jury were adequate in light of the evidence presented, and the trial court was under no obligation further to instruct the jury, sua sponte.

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