Citation. 317 U.S. 49,63 S. Ct. 99, 87 L. Ed. 23,1942 U.S.
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Brief Fact Summary.
Defendants were found guilty of several counts of conspiracy. The Defendants allege that violations they partook in were part of a single agreement, which should only be one conspiracy charge.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
The one agreement cannot be taken to be several agreements and hence several conspiracies just because it involves the violation of several laws.
Defendants were indicted with others on seven counts, each charging conspiracy to violate a separate and distinct internal revenue law. There was evidence presented that the Defendants collaborated to manufacture, transport and distribute alcohol in violation of the law. The jury found the Defendants guilty and they received prison time for each count. The Defendants alleged that all the charges indicated a single conspiracy and thus they could only receive jail time for one conspiracy. The appellate court affirmed and the Defendants appealed.
Whether a single agreement to commit acts in violation of several laws is to be punished as one or several conspiracies.
Reversed, the single agreement is the prohibited, and however many laws are violated is not relevant because it is a violation of a single statute prohibiting conspiracy.
When a single agreement to commit one or more substantive crimes is evidences by an overt act, the precise nature and extent of the conspiracy must be determined.
The one agreement cannot be taken to be several agreements and hence several conspiracies because it involves the violation of several statutes and not just one.
The court focused analysis on the fact that although the Defendants violated several statutes, their conspiracy involved a single agreement to do so. Each separate violation of the law was not a separate agreement to conspire to violate that law. Rather, the Defendants entered into one agreement that contemplated violation of several laws, thus they could only be found guilty of one count of conspiracy.