A dangerous expansion of Oregon's aid and abet liability.

Today the Oregon Supreme Court upheld Ronald Everett's conviction for Solicitation to Commit Aggravated Murder on the grounds that he solicited someone to deliver damaging information about an outlaw biker to other members of that individual's outlaw biker gang, in the hopes that members of that gang might act on such information by murdering that outlaw biker.

While pending a trial in an assault case, Everett came into the possession of a taped interview of a witness who was cooperating with the prosecution against him. This cooperator had apparently once been and "enforcer" for "The Outlaws," an outlaw biker club.

Everett asked another person to deliver the taped "snitch" interview to The Outlaws' clubhouse in Portland. Everett believed that once this was done, The Outlaws would take care of the issue. Everett apparently hoped this meant they would kill the witness.

The problem is that Everett did nothing unlawful. He simply tried to get information about a snitch to others he felt would not be terribly happy about the snitching.

Under Oregon law, to aid and abet means to advise, counsel, or encourage another to commit a crime, or to countenance, assist or give aid to the commission of the offense. Simply providing otherwise lawful information to one party in the hopes that they might act on it does not seem to rise to that level. Under the theory espoused by the court today, a person is liable for the actions of another, hoped for or not, simply by interacting with them in an otherwise lawful fashion if that interaction somehow causes or leads the other party to commit a crime. This is a dangerous precedent and a breathtaking expansion of criminal liability.


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