18 USC Sec. 2 01/05/2009
TITLE 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART I - CRIMES
CHAPTER 1 - GENERAL PROVISIONS
Sec. 2. Principals
(a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids,
abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is
punishable as a principal.
(b) Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly
performed by him or another would be an offense against the United
States, is punishable as a principal.
(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 684; Oct. 31, 1951, ch. 655, Sec.
17b, 65 Stat. 717.)
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES
Based on title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed., Sec. 550 (Mar. 4, 1909, ch.
321, Sec. 332, 35 Stat. 1152).
Section 2(a) comprises section 550 of title 18, U.S.C., 1940 ed.,
without change except in minor matters of phraseology.
Section 2(b) is added to permit the deletion from many sections
throughout the revision of such phrases as "causes or procures".
The section as revised makes clear the legislative intent to
punish as a principal not only one who directly commits an offense
and one who "aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures"
another to commit an offense, but also anyone who causes the doing
of an act which if done by him directly would render him guilty of
an offense against the United States.
It removes all doubt that one who puts in motion or assists in
the illegal enterprise but causes the commission of an
indispensable element of the offense by an innocent agent or
instrumentality, is guilty as a principal even though he
intentionally refrained from the direct act constituting the
This accords with the following decisions: Rothenburg v. United
States, 1918, 38 S. Ct. 18, 245 U.S. 480, 62 L. Ed. 414, and United
States v. Hodorowicz, C. C. A. Ill. 1939, 105 F. 2d 218, certiorari
denied, 60 S. Ct. 108, 308 U.S. 584, 84 L. Ed. 489. United States
v. Giles, 1937, 57 S. Ct. 340, 300 U.S. 41, 81 L. Ed. 493,
rehearing denied, 57 S. Ct. 505, 300 U.S. 687, 81 L. Ed. 888.
1951 - Subsec. (a). Act Oct. 31, 1951, inserted "punishable as".
Subsec. (b). Act Oct. 31, 1951, inserted "willfully" before
"causes", and "or another" after "him", and substituted "is
punishable as a principal" for "is also a principal and punishable