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Principals in the Second Degree in Virginia--Same as the Actual Actor Commiting the Crime

Virginia treats principals in the second degree—that is a person who conspires before a crime, with the person who commits the crime, exactly the same as the actual person who commits the act. For example, if two people plan a murder, but only one person actually shows up and shoots the victim, bot will be tried for murder.

The Code of Virginia says at § 18.2-18."In the case of every felony, every principal in the second degree and every accessory before the fact may be indicted, tried, convicted and punished in all respects as if a principal in the first degree; provided, however, that except in the case of a killing for hire under the provisions of subdivision 2 of § 18.2-31 or a killing pursuant to the direction or order of one who is engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise under the provisions of subdivision 10 of § 18.2-31 or a killing pursuant to the direction or order of one who is engaged in the commission of or attempted commission of an act of terrorism under the provisions of subdivision 13 of § 18.2-31, an accessory before the fact or principal in the second degree to a capital murder shall be indicted, tried, convicted and punished as though the offense were murder in the first degree."

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