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Pinkerton v. United States

Scott Caron

ProfessorScott Caron

CaseCast "What you need to know"

CaseCast –  "What you need to know"

Pinkerton v. United States

Citation. 328 U.S. 640, 66 S. Ct. 1180, 90 L. Ed. 1489, 1946 U.S. 3154.
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Brief Fact Summary.

The Defendants, Walter and Daniel Pinkerton (Defendants) are brothers who live a short distance from each other on Daniel’s farm. They were indicted for violations of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

An overt act of one partner may be the act of all without any new agreement specifically directed to that act.


The indictment contained ten substantive counts and one conspiracy count. The jury found Walter guilty on nine of the substantive counts and on the conspiracy count. The jury also found Daniel guilty on six of the substantive counts and on the conspiracy count. Each of the substantive offenses found was committed pursuant to the conspiracy.


Was there sufficient evidence to implicate Daniel Pinkerton in the conspiracy?


There was enough evidence of conspiracy to submit the issue to the jury for consideration. As a result, the convictions in the lower court are affirmed.


The decision rendered by the majority is dangerous precedent to set. There is sufficient evidence that Walter acted alone in committing the substantive crimes and there was no evidence that Daniel participated in them or aided and abetted Walter in doing so.


The majority found that the conspiracy in this case was a “continuous conspiracy.” As a result, the court found that because Daniel did nothing to remove himself or otherwise withdraw from the already formed conspiracy, that he was responsible, in part, for Walter’s subsequent acts.

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