Thursday, December 16, 2010

General Conspiracy - 18 U.S.C. § 371

A conspiracy is considered a separate and distinct offense from the underlying substantive offense contemplated by the conspiracy.    To prove a conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. § 371, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt (1) an agreement among two or more persons to achieve an unlawful objective; (2) knowing and voluntary participation in the agreement; and (3) an overt act by a conspirator in furtherance of the agreement. . A violation of § 371 is punishable by a fine and imprisonment of up to five years, or both.

Since the offense of conspiracy is a specific intent crime, “[t]he government must . . . prove beyond a reasonable doubt that each defendant had a ‘deliberate, knowing, specific intent to join the conspiracy.’”  To establish this requisite intent, the evidence of knowledge must be substantial, clear and unequivocal, not slight.   In other words, the government must prove that a defendant knowingly and intentionally joined the charged conspiracy, knowing the conspiracy’s aims and intending to achieve them. Id. 

However, showing that a defendant has a general knowledge about criminal activity does not prove that he or she agreed to become part of the conspiracy. The law is clear that mere presence at the scene of a crime or conspiratorial activity, or mere association with a co-conspirator, is not enough to establish a defendant's knowing and intentional participation in criminal activity, even if the defendant is aware of the criminal activity.

For more information visit H. Manuel Hernandez, Attorney at Law

H. Manuel Hernandez has been practicing criminal law for 32 years, the first 10 years as a federal prosecutor, and the last 22 years as a criminal defense attorney. He is dual Board Certified by the Florida Bar as a Criminal Trial Specialist and a Criminal Appellate Specialist by the Florida Bar. He is also Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy as a Criminal Trial Advocate. Mr. Hernández has been rated "AV" in the distinguished Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, the highest rating available in this highly respected legal directory relied on by attorneys when looking for other attorneys to refer cases to or to work with in different areas of the law.

For more information please call the office of attorney H. Manuel Hernández, P.A. 407-682-5553   

1 comment:

  1. This is all true, unless you work for the government, then no laws apply and conspiracy is totally legal. Proven by having not jailed the enforcers of laws that were deemed facially unconstitutional(facially meaning that the laws were on they're face unconstitutional, not justice Scalia's definition)