In Breishit 42:21, the verse begins:
"Each person said to his brother, we are all guilty..."
In verse 22, Re'uven chastises his brothers by telling them, "Didn't I tell you do not do sin with the child..."
Going back to the initial account of the story, in Breishit 37:20-22, the brothers propose to kill Joseph. Re'uven suggests, don't kill him, but throw him in this pit planning to eventually return to retrieve Joseph and return him to his father. Rash"i explains that there were snakes and scorpions in the pit. During the time of the suggestion, wouldn't Re'uven realize that putting Joseph in the pit was dangerous? Maybe not?
So, there might be a contradiction with the initial story and verse 42:21. Re'uven was not around when they sold Joseph. If he is confessing with his brothers, why is he doing that, if he wasn't responsible for the selling?
All the verse says is that they said "We are guilty for seeing our brother's suffering and we didn't listen" (It doesn't say what or to whom they didn't listen. I assume it means to Joseph's screaming for mercy.) So, if Reuven, in fact IS confessing his guilt with his brothers, then, in the next verse, when he chastises them, what purpose does that accomplish? His suggesting that they place Joseph in a pit might have also caused his death.
Another angle - If Re'uven knew, in advance, that he had to leave his brothers, why did he trust them that they would leave Joseph alone in the pit while he was gone? Even discounting the factor, we see that despite his intentions to retrieve Joseph from the pit, he doesn't do this, immediately, but he disappears from the scene.
Something to note in verse 21 - the brothers say, "Therefore all this trouble has come upon us." Even if Re'uevn is not part of that actual confession, the "trouble" the brothers are referring to is the claim of being spies, which includes Re'uven as well. So, they would be including Re'uven in the consequences, anyway.