State v. Canola
State v. Canola (1977)
Supreme Court of New Jersey
373 A.2d 20
FACTS: Defendant and three others went to rob a jewelry store. The owner of the store engaged in a physical skirmish in an attempt to resist the armed robbery. Gunfire was exchanged between the owner and the robbers. The owner was fatally shot by the robber, and a robber was fatally shot by the owner. Defendant was charged with murder.
ISSUE: Whether defendant may be held liable for felony murder?
RULES: No person can be held guilty of homicide unless the act is either actually or constructively his, and it cannot be his act in either sense unless committed by his own hand or by someone acting in concert w/ him or in furtherance of a common object or purpose.
HOLDING/RULING: Strike the conviction and sentencing of the defendant.
CONCURRING: (Adopted into law after this opinion) – The thrust of our felony murder statute is to hold the criminal liable for any killing which ensues during the commission of a felony, even though the felon did not commit the actual killing. To hold otherwise would be to let a felon bear no criminal responsibility when someone is killed, not through their own hand, during their felonious act.
CLASS NOTES: You are usually liable for the acts of your co-felon. Even if you are the get a way driver, and the co-felon makes the murder you are usually still liable for the murder (vicarious liability).
One of multiple perpetrators could not be guilty of felony murder when the death was caused by the victim.