Did Bruce Wayne Break His One Rule by Being an Accessory After the Fact to Murder?

Bruce Wayne on Gotham is neither the Caped Crusader nor the Boy Wonder. However, he might be an accessory after the fact to Selina Kyle’s murder of Reggie Payne. Did Batman break his one rule for the first girl who kissed him?

Maybe…

First things first: Selina Kyle pushed Reggie Payne out of a five-story window that resulted in his death. This meets the statutory definition of murder, because Selina Kyle both knowingly and purposely caused Payne’s death. N.J. Stat. § 2C:11-3(a)(1) and (2).

Bruce was with Selina Kyle at the time of Payne’s fall in order to get information on the Wayne Enterprise’s conspiracy. Bruce himself considered pushing Payne out of the window, but stopped. This shows Bruce did not have the intent to kill Reggie Payne.

Selina told Bruce not to tell anyone about her murdering Payne. Does Bruce Wayne’s covering up of Selina’s murder of Payne make him an accessory after the fact?

Under New Jersey law, assuming Gotham City is in New Jersey, a person is legally accountable for the conduct of another person when:

(1) Acting with the kind of culpability that is sufficient for the commission of the offense, he causes an innocent or irresponsible person to engage in such conduct;

(2) He is made accountable for the conduct of such other person by the code or by the law defining the offense;

(3) He is an accomplice of such other person in the commission of an offense; or

(4) He is engaged in a conspiracy with such other person.

N.J. Stat. § 2C:2-6(b).

New Jersey case law explains that an accessory needs only to have notice that the other person committed a “high misdemeanor” and knowing that assisting that person would justify a conviction. See, State v. Lynch, 79 N.J. 327, 399 A.2d 629, 1979 N.J. LEXIS 1199 (1979).

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As another case explained, New Jersey requires that an accomplice act with the same purposeful state of mind in furtherance of a crime for liability. State v. Whitaker (2009) 200 N.J. 444, 457-458; N.J.S.A. 2C:2-6(c)(1). Moreover, “mere knowledge, without more,” does not make one an accomplice. Id. As such, an “accomplice is only guilty of the same crime committed by the principal if he shares the same criminal state of mind as the principal.” Whitaker, at *458-459. However, the accessory can be guilty of lessor crime. Id.

What does this mean for Bruce Wayne? Bruce did not have the intent to kill Reggie Payne, thus Bruce did not have the same murderous intent as Selina. Moreover, Bruce actually decided not to push Reggie out of the window. As such, Bruce did not have any criminal intent, where Selina certainly had criminal intent to commit murder. As such, it is unlikely Bruce could be convicted for murder, but certainly for obstruction of justice and related crimes for helping cover-up a murder.

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Josh Gilliland

Josh Gilliland is a California attorney who focuses his practice on eDiscovery. Josh is the co-creator of The Legal Geeks, which has made the ABA Journal Top Blawg 100 Blawg for 2013 to 2016, and was nominated for Best Podcast for the 2015 Geekie Awards. Josh has presented at legal conferences and comic book conventions across the United States. He also ties a mean bow tie.