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A cooperator. A person in criminal law who voluntarily joins with another to commit a crime. One who knowingly, voluntarily, and with a common interest with others participates in the commission of a crime as a principal, accessory, or aider and abettor. One who unites with others in the commission of a felony. An accomplice is 'a person who knowingly, voluntarily, and with common intent with the principal offender unites in the commission of a crime.' Zirkle v. Commonwealth, 189 Va. 862, 876, 55 S.E.2d 24, 32 (1949). 


An accomplice can be a principal, or an accessory. While the principal offender need not be convicted of the underlying offense in order to sustain the conviction of an accomplice, the Commonwealth must prove that the underlying offense has been committed by the principal offender. See Snyder v. Commonwealth, 202 Va. 1009, 1017, 121 S.E.2d 452, 458-59 (1961); Hatchett v. Commonwealth, 75 Va. 925, 932 (1882). In short, accomplice liability is derivative in nature. See People v. Prettyman, 14 Cal. 4th 248, 926 P.2d 1013, 1018 (Cal. 1996) ('Accomplice liability is 'derivative,' that is, it results from an act by the perpetrator to which the accomplice ...

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