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United States v. Mandujano

    Brief Fact Summary. Defendant was convicted of attempting to distribute heroin. Defendant appealed based on the instructions given to the jury on attempt.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The conduct constituting a substantial step must be strongly corroborative of the firmness of Defendant’s criminal intent.

    Facts. An undercover police officer and government informer entered a bar one afternoon to meet with Defendant. The meeting was to obtain heroin from Defendant. After several phone calls by Defendant, as well as a trip to see an alleged supplier, Defendant told the undercover officer that he was unable to get any heroin. Defendant was convicted of attempted distribution of heroin.

    Issue. Whether Defendant’s conduct constituted a substantial step toward commission of the crime.

    Held. Affirmed.
    To constitute an attempt, first the Defendant must have been acting with the kind of culpability otherwise required for the commission of the crime and second, the Defendant must have engaged in conduct which constitutes a substantial step toward commission of the crime.

    The conduct constituting a substantial step must be strongly corroborative of the firmness of the Defendant’s criminal intent


    Discussion. The Court found that Defendant made several substantial steps in furtherance of the crime. The Court noted the money Defendant received from the undercover officer and all of his actions before and after he received the money would be sufficient to support the conviction. This test the Court outlined is called the “substantial step” test, which the Court notes has been adopted by Federal courts as the proper analytical framework to analyze whether Defendant can be found guilty of an attempt.


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