The passenger of a getaway car used in a robbery in Suffolk, Virginia was convicted of Robbery even though he was neither the robber, the lookout, nor the driver of the getaway car. This case is yet another lesson that one should pick his friends carefully.
In Virginia, one who does not commit a crime but who assists the commission of a crime can be found guilty as a “principal in the second degree.” Such people can be punished as if they committed the crime. Thus, even if you never personally rob someone, can be still be found guilty of Robbery so long as you helped in some way.
In this case, one guy actually robbed the victim. A second guy served as lookout. A third guy drove the getaway car. So, how was is that the passenger was convicted? Simple, he was given a cut of the criminal proceeds — the same cut as the lookout got. He also told the police that he and the driver were there to pick up the guy who actually committed the robbery. The jury inferred that he was involved in the conspiracy and the Court of Appeals found this inference reasonable.
The case is Whitley v. Commonwealth, No. 0839-12-1 (February 26, 2013).