Conspiracy is a partnership that is formed for the sake of committing a crime. It has two elements:
The intent to combine with others
And the intent to accomplish the illegal objective.
If the actual crime is carried out, a person can be guilty of both conspiracy and the committed crime.
Conspiracy = An agreement between multiple parties to commit a criminal act or accomplish a legal act by unlawful means
Under the common law, the general rule is that an overt act is not needed to find a conviction.
See above for the mens rea.
Says that a person requires an offense with a complete agreement or on over act towards the crime.
Pinkerton v. United States
328 U.S. 640 (1956).
Daniel Pinkerton convicted of 6 substantive crimes and conspiracy and convicted Walter on 9 substantive crimes and conspiracy.
Can Daniel be convicted for his crimes when he was only a conspirator?
Once you have engaged in conspiracy, you are liable for all crimes arising out of the conspiracy, regardless of evidence in direct participation.
Jury question, jury ruled, affirmed.
The Pinkerton brothers had conspired to violate several Internal Revenue Codes. However, Walter ended up doing most of the actual dirty work. Regardless, both Daniel and Walter were convicted of several crimes.
What we have here is a continuous conspiracy where the crimes that were committed were defendant on the furtherance of the conspiracy. So, Daniel, even though he did not commit the crime (or even knew about a couple of them), because they were essential for the conspiracy, he can be guilty of those crimes.
We have a classic example of the opposite of “famous by association.” Here, instead we have, “guilty by association.” In other words, it is important to note that there is a difference between accomplice and conspirator where a conspirator can be treated more broadly than an accomplice.
The defendant argues that even though he may be guilty of conspiracy but that he should not be guilty of the substantive crimes because he wasn’t involve in those. So, we need to determine how liable the actions of co-conspirators can put onto others in the conspiracy.
Pinkerton says that the overt action of one partner makes all other partners guilty of the crime. There are limits to this rule.
Not in furtherance of the crime,
Not within the scope of the crime,
And the consequences of the plan are not reasonably foreseeable.
If all parties are found guilty of conspiracy, then they will also be liable for the other crimes in addition to the conspiracy.
People v. Swain
49 Cal. Rptr. 390 (1996).
Convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and other crimes.
Can conspiracy liability exist for a non-express malice crime?
Conspiracy includes the intent to agree and the intent to commit the targeted offense.
Not guilty of conspiracy.
The defendant is involved in a drive-by shooting. They are charged with conspiracy to commit second degree murder. He argues that they needed to prove intent to kill, not implied malice to show murder.
Had he been charged of a first degree murder, then he could have conspired to the offense. However, since he was charged with a second degree murder, he can’t be guilty of conspiracy.
You can’t be charged with a conspiracy to commit a second degree murder. That is because conspiracy is a specific intent crime. That is, you can’t be charged with any unintentional homicide.
Commonwealth v. Azim
459 A.2d 1244 (Pa. Super. 1983).
Charged with simple assault, robbery, and conspiracy.
How much evidence is enough to convict for conspiracy?
You can find circumstantial evidence to show conspiracy by:
Association with the alleged conspirators
Knowledge of the commission of the crime
Presence at the scene of the crime
Participation in the object of conspiracy
Can find conspiracy.
The defendant was driving a car. They were on campus, beckoned for the victim to come over. His passengers got out to assault and rob the victim. Afterwards, the defendant drove the passengers away.
The defendant argues that there was not enough evidence to show that there was an agreement to beat up the victim. However, the courts disagree. They say that there was enough circumstantial evidence to show conspiracy. This is because he drove up, parked, waited, and then drove the people off.
On the other hand, if the defendant was another passenger who chose not to participate but simply waited, then he likely did not conspire.
Commonwealth v. Cook
411 N.E.2d 1326 (Mass. App. Ct. 1980).
Convicted with conspiracy to commit rape and an accessory to the rape.
Is there sufficient evidence for a conspiracy conviction? Can the conspiracy conviction rest solely on accomplice liability?
For the first question: Must show that there is an agreement and that the defendant was aware of the goal. You can infer this through the circumstantial evidence.
Not guilty of a conspiracy.
Defendant and his brother were sitting and invited the victim to socialize with them. They talked for a while but ended up walked to a nearby gas station. They took an odd way to the store, one of the brothers raped the victim and the defendant stated encouragement although he did not participate.
Here, there was no evidence to show an agreement to conspire. Before the assault they were constantly talking to the victim, didn’t indicate that they had any plan, didn’t know the victim before hand. During the assault, the action seemed spontaneous which means that they did not have a preexisting plan. Although he was an accomplice, he was not a conspirator.
Conspiracy is about an agreement to commit a crime whereas an accomplice is a person who helps engage in a crime. Therefore, he can be an accomplice but not a conspirator.
The content contained in this article may contain inaccuracies and is not intended to reflect the opinions, views, beliefs, or practices of any academic professor or publication. Instead, this content is a reflection on the author’s understanding of the law and legal practices.
All Law Schoolers content is for educational purposes only and not to be treated as legal advice. Law Schoolers is not liable for any actions taken to apply any content provided. Users should also review the Terms and Conditions for further information.
The best way for Law Schoolers to improve is through your feedback.
Enhance your Law Schooler Experience Through Our Email