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Mitchell v. State

    Brief Fact Summary. Defendant was convicted of numerous crimes resulting from an assault on a victim. Defendant contends that he lacked the requisite mental state for conspiracy to commit murder in the second degree and that because he was acquitted of conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree, he cannot be convicted of this offense.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. It is factually possible for two or more individuals to conspire without premeditation and deliberation. Conspiracies do not require formal expressions of agreement or advance planning.

    Facts. Defendant was charged with numerous offenses in conjunction with an assault and shooting of Mr. Arias. Mr. Arias was shot in the stairwell of his apartment building by who was later identified as Defendant and another. Defendant was found guilty of some offenses and not guilty of others. The Defendant appealed arguing that conspiracy to commit second degree murder is not a crime. Defendant was acquitted of conspiracy to commit first degree murder and argues that this acquittal eliminates the second degree murder conspiracy charge.

    Issue. Whether Defendant had the requisite statement of mind for the crime of conspiracy to commit second degree murder.

    Held. Affirmed. A jury may opt to convict a Defendant of a lesser included offense of second degree murder.
    Murder is defined as a killing with malice aforethought. The term malice includes the presence of the required malevolent state of mind as well as the absence of justification, excuse or mitigating circumstances. A homicide that satisfies this definition can be classified as first or second degree murder.

    For the crime of conspiracy to commit murder, the State must establish the defendant entered into an agreement to commit murder and he did so with specific intent to commit the murder.

    It is factually possible for two or more individuals to conspire without premeditation and deliberation. Conspiracies do not require formal expressions of agreement or advance planning.

    Dissent. The dissent stated that deliberation and premeditation are essential elements of an agreement to commit an intentional killing. The dissent would reverse the conviction for conspiracy to commit second degree murder.

    Discussion. The Court focused its discussion on whether for the mental state element of conspiracy to commit murder required premeditation and deliberation. Although the Court referenced decisions in which other jurisdictions found that prior planning and agreement were necessary, the court ruled that with a shout of “lets go” two friends after drinking could decide to commit an assault and that this would sustain a conspiracy to commit an assault.


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