General Principles of Liability
Section 15.00 Culpability; definitions of terms
The following definitions are applicable to this chapter:
1. "Act" means a bodily movement.
2. "Voluntary act" means a bodily movement performed consciously as a result of effort or determination, and includes the possession of property if the actor was aware of his physical possession or control thereof for a sufficient period to have been able to terminate it.
3. "Omission" means a failure to perform an act as to which a duty of performance is imposed by law.
4. "Conduct" means an act or omission and its accompanying mental
5. "To act" means either to perform an act or to omit to perform an act.
6. "Culpable mental state" means "intentionally" or "knowingly"
or "recklessly" or with "criminal negligence," as these terms are defined
in section 15.05.
Section 15.05 Culpability; definitions of culpable mental states
The following definitions are applicable to this chapter:
1. "Intentionally." A person acts intentionally with respect to a result or to conduct described by a statute defining an offense when his conscious objective is to cause such result or to engage in such conduct.
2. "Knowingly." A person acts knowingly with respect to conduct or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when he is aware that his conduct is of such nature or that such circumstance exists.
3. "Recklessly." A person acts recklessly with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when he is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur or that such circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard thereof constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. A person who creates such a risk but is unaware thereof solely by reason of voluntary intoxication also acts recklessly with respect thereto.
4. "Criminal negligence." A person acts with criminal negligence
with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining
an offense when he fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk
that such result will occur or that such circumstance exists. The
risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to perceive it
constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable
person would observe in the situation.
Section 15.10 Requirements for criminal liability in general and for offenses of strict liability and mental culpability
The minimal requirement for criminal liability is the performance
by a person of conduct which includes a voluntary act or the omission
to perform an act which he is physically capable of performing. If
such conduct is all that is required for commission of a particular offense,
or if an offense or some material element thereof does not require a culpable
mental state on the part of the actor, such offense is one of "strict liability."
If a culpable mental state on the part of the actor is required with respect
to every material element of an offense, such offense is one of "mental
Section 15.15 Construction of statutes with respect to culpability requirements
1. When the commission of an offense defined in this chapter, or some element of an offense, requires a particular culpable mental state, such mental state is ordinarily designated in the statute defining the offense by use of the terms "intentionally," "knowingly," "recklessly" or "criminal negligence," or by use of terms, such as "with intent to defraud" and "knowing it to be false," describing a specific kind of intent or knowledge. When one and only one of such terms appears in a statute defining an offense, it is presumed to apply to every element of the offense unless an intent to limit its application clearly appears.
2. Although no culpable mental state is expressly designated in
a statute defining an offense, a culpable mental state may nevertheless
be required for the commission of such offense, or with respect to some
or all of the material elements thereof, if the proscribed conduct necessarily
involves such culpable mental state. A statute defining a crime,
unless clearly indicating a legislative intent to impose strict liability,
should be construed as defining a crime of mental culpability. This
subdivision applies to offenses defined both in and outside this chapter.
Section 15.20 Effect of ignorance or mistake upon liability
1. A person is not relieved of criminal liability for conduct because he engages in such conduct under a mistaken belief of fact, unless:
(a) Such factual mistake negatives the culpable mental state required for the commission of an offense; or
(b) The statute defining the offense or a statute related thereto expressly provides that such factual mistake constitutes a defense or exemption; or
(c) Such factual mistake is of a kind that supports a defense of justification as defined in article thirty-five of this chapter.
2. A person is not relieved of criminal liability for conduct because he engages in such conduct under a mistaken belief that it does not, as a matter of law, constitute an offense, unless such mistaken belief is founded upon an official statement of the law contained in (a) a statute or other enactment, or (b) an administrative order or grant of permission, or (c) a judicial decision of a state or federal court, or (d) an interpretation of the statute or law relating to the offense, officially made or issued by a public servant, agency or body legally charged or empowered with the responsibility or privilege of administering, enforcing or interpreting such statute or law.
3. Notwithstanding the use of the term "knowingly" in any provision of this chapter defining an offense in which the age of a child is an element thereof, knowledge by the defendant of the age of such child is not an element of any such offense and it is not, unless expressly so provided, a defense to a prosecution therefor that the defendant did not know the age of the child or believed such age to be the same as or greater than that specified in the statute.
4. Notwithstanding the use of the term "knowingly" in any provision
of this chapter defining an offense in which the aggregate weight of a
controlled substance or marihuana is an element, knowledge by the defendant
of the aggregate weight of such controlled substance or marihuana is not
an element of any such offense and it is not, unless expressly so provided,
a defense to a prosecution therefor that the defendant did not know the
aggregate weight of the controlled substance or marihuana.
Section 15.25 Effect of intoxication upon liability
Intoxication is not, as such, a defense to a criminal charge;
but in any prosecution for an offense, evidence of intoxication of the
defendant may be offered by the defendant whenever it is relevant to negative
an element of the crime charged.
Section 20.00 Criminal liability for conduct of another
When one person engages in conduct which constitutes an offense,
another person is criminally liable for such conduct when, acting with
the mental culpability required for the commission thereof, he solicits,
requests, commands, importunes, or intentionally aids such person to engage
in such conduct.
Section 20.05 Criminal liability for conduct of another; no defense
In any prosecution for an offense in which the criminal liability of the defendant is based upon the conduct of another person pursuant to section 20.00, it is no defense that:
1. Such other person is not guilty of the offense in question owing to criminal irresponsibility or other legal incapacity or exemption, or to unawareness of the criminal nature of the conduct in question or of the defendant's criminal purpose or to other factors precluding the mental state required for the commission of the offense in question; or
2. Such other person has not been prosecuted for or convicted of any offense based upon the conduct in question, or has previously been acquitted thereof, or has legal immunity from prosecution therefor; or
3. The offense in question, as defined, can be committed only
by a particular class or classes of persons, and the defendant, not belonging
to such class or classes, is for that reason legally incapable of committing
the offense in an individual capacity.
Section 20.10 Criminal liability for conduct of another; exemption
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 20.00 and 20.05, a
person is not criminally liable for conduct of another person constituting
an offense when his own conduct, though causing or aiding the commission
of such offense, is of a kind that is necessarily incidental thereto.
If such conduct constitutes a related but separate offense upon the part
of the actor, he is liable for that offense only and not for the conduct
or offense committed by the other person.
Section 20.15 Convictions for different degrees of offense
Except as otherwise expressly provided in this chapter, when,
pursuant to section 20.00, two or more persons are criminally liable for
an offense which is divided into degrees, each person is guilty of such
degree as is compatible with his own culpable mental state and with his
own accountability for an aggravating fact or circumstance.
Section 20.20 Criminal liability of corporations
1. As used in this section:
(a) "Agent" means any director, officer or employee of a corporation, or any other person who is authorized to act in behalf of the corporation.
(b) "High managerial agent" means an officer of a corporation or any other agent in a position of comparable authority with respect to the formulation of corporate policy or the supervision in a managerial capacity of subordinate employees.
2. A corporation is guilty of an offense when:
(a) The conduct constituting the offense consists of an omission to discharge a specific duty of affirmative performance imposed on corporations by law; or
(b) The conduct constituting the offense is engaged in, authorized, solicited, requested, commanded, or recklessly tolerated by the board of directors or by a high managerial agent acting within the scope of his employment and in behalf of the corporation; or
(c) The conduct constituting the offense is engaged in by an
agent of the corporation while acting within the scope of his employment
and in behalf of the corporation, and the offense is (i) a misdemeanor
or a violation, (ii) one defined by a statute which clearly indicates a
legislative intent to impose such criminal liability on a corporation,
or (iii) any offense set forth in title twenty-seven of article seventy-one
of the environmental conservation law.
Section 20.25 Criminal liability of an individual for corporate conduct
A person is criminally liable for conduct constituting an offense
which he performs or causes to be performed in the name of or in behalf
of a corporation to the same extent as if such conduct were performed in
his own name or behalf.
Section 25.00 Defenses; burden of proof
1. When a "defense," other than an "affirmative defense," defined by statute is raised at a trial, the people have the burden of disproving such defense beyond a reasonable doubt.
2. When a defense declared by statute to be an "affirmative defense" is raised at a trial, the defendant has the burden of establishing such defense by a preponderance of the evidence.
Section 40.00 Duress
1. In any prosecution for an offense, it is an affirmative defense that the defendant engaged in the proscribed conduct because he was coerced to do so by the use or threatened imminent use of unlawful physical force upon him or a third person, which force or threatened force a person of reasonable firmness in his situation would have been unable to resist.
2. The defense of duress as defined in subdivision one of this
section is not available when a person intentionally or recklessly places
himself in a situation in which it is probable that he will be subjected
Section 40.05 Entrapment
In any prosecution for an offense, it is an affirmative defense
that the defendant engaged in the proscribed conduct because he was induced
or encouraged to do so by a public servant, or by a person acting in cooperation
with a public servant, seeking to obtain evidence against him for purpose
of criminal prosecution, and when the methods used to obtain such evidence
were such as to create a substantial risk that the offense would be committed
by a person not otherwise disposed to commit it. Inducement or encouragement
to commit an offense means active inducement or encouragement. Conduct
merely affording a person an opportunity to commit an offense does not
Section 40.10 Renunciation
1. In any prosecution for an offense, other than an attempt to commit a crime, in which the defendant's guilt depends upon his criminal liability for the conduct of another person pursuant to section 20.00, it is an affirmative defense that, under circumstances manifesting a voluntary and complete renunciation of his criminal purpose, the defendant withdrew from participation in such offense prior to the commission thereof and made a substantial effort to prevent the commission thereof.
2. In any prosecution for criminal facilitation pursuant to article one hundred fifteen, it is an affirmative defense that, prior to the commission of the felony which he facilitated, the defendant made a substantial effort to prevent the commission of such felony.
3. In any prosecution pursuant to section 110.00 for an attempt to commit a crime, it is an affirmative defense that, under circumstances manifesting a voluntary and complete renunciation of his criminal purpose, the defendant avoided the commission of the crime attempted by abandoning his criminal effort and, if mere abandonment was insufficient to accomplish such avoidance, by taking further and affirmative steps which prevented the commission thereof.
4. In any prosecution for criminal solicitation pursuant to article one hundred or for conspiracy pursuant to article one hundred five in which the crime solicited or the crime contemplated by the conspiracy was not in fact committed, it is an affirmative defense that, under circumstances manifesting a voluntary and complete renunciation of his criminal purpose, the defendant prevented the commission of such crime.
5. A renunciation is not "voluntary and complete" within the meaning
of this section if it is motivated in whole or in part by (a) a belief
that circumstances exist which increase the probability of detection or
apprehension of the defendant or another participant in the criminal enterprise,
or which render more difficult the accomplishment of the criminal purpose,
or (b) a decision to postpone the criminal conduct until another time or
to transfer the criminal effort to another victim or another but similar
Section 40.15 Mental disease or defect
In any prosecution for an offense, it is an affirmative defense that when the defendant engaged in the proscribed conduct, he lacked criminal responsibility by reason of mental disease or defect. Such lack of criminal responsibility means that at the time of such conduct, as a result of mental disease or defect, he lacked substantial capacity to know or appreciate either:
1. The nature and consequences of such conduct; or
2. That such conduct was wrong.