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Multiple Conspiracies

Generally, if a number of conspirators agree to carry out different functions in furtherance

of the conspiracy, the agreement constitutes a single conspiracy. This is so even if the
different functions amount to more than one unlawful purpose. In some states, however,
the different functions may constitute multiple conspiracies if there is an agreement to
commit more than one crime.
An unlawful agreement is an element of a criminal conspiracy. A single agreement to
commit several crimes constitutes one conspiracy. Similarly, multiple agreements to
commit separate crimes constitute multiple conspiracies by the same reasoningiv!. The
precise nature and e"tent of a conspiracy must be determined by reference to the
agreement which embraces and defines its ob#ects. $ See more at%
It is to be noted that if there is an agreement between two or more persons for an
unlawful purpose, it is considered a criminal conspiracy even where there is no
agreement regarding the details of the criminal scheme or the means by which the
unlawful purpose will be accomplished. $ See more at%
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Conspiracy with multiple criminal ob#ectives. If a person conspires to commit a number
of crimes, the person is guilty of only one conspiracy if the multiple crimes are the ob#ect
of the same agreement or continuous conspiratorial relationship $ See more at%
This section substantially adopts the language of =;.:8>8? of the Model @enal Code. In
conspiracy, the danger for which the sanction is imposed arises out of the special
circumstances of the #oining of several individuals to effect a criminal ob#ect. *ere, the
law Auite correctly recogniBes that there is a special and uniAue danger in individuals
combining to commit crime% this danger is easily seen in the pervasive and pernicious
aspects of so$called CorganiBed crimeC today. *ence it may be seen that, in the area of
conspiracy, the particular crimes which are the ob#ect of the conspiracy are of concern
only in defining the criminality of the conspiratorial intent. Since it is the actual
combination or agreement which we seeD to condemn, each combination or agreement
constitutes a single separate crime of conspiracy, regardless of how many separate
offenses are intended under the agreement.
The traditional conspiracy Auestion, of whether different ob#ectives e"ecuted over a
period of time are included in the same agreement, is largely avoided by the modifying
clause at the end of the section. 0ather than considering such Auestions of intent and
causality, the Code focuses upon the more significant Auestion of a continuous
association for criminal purposes.6!
there is a special and uniAue danger in individuals combining to commit crime, thus the
law is in convern only in defining the criminality of the conspiratorial intent, and thus it is
the agreement the act of organiBed worDing together to commit crime>s?! which the law
seeDs to condemn.
In this area, the Code is in accord with the present prevailing doctrine of most
#urisdictions. The development of the present doctrine may easily be traced in a series
of Supreme Court decisions.
In 1nited States v. 0abinowich,<! the Court recogniBed that a conspiracy is not to be
eAuated with the commission of the crime contemplated, and neither arises under nor
violates the statute the violation of which is its ob#ect.8! SubseAuently, in ErohwerD v.
1nited States,7! the Supreme Court attempted to settle a Auestion which had formerly
been uncertain in the federal courtsF i.e., whether a conspiracy was singular although its
ob#ectives were multiple. The Court held that Cthe conspiracy is the crime, and that is
one, however diverse its ob#ects.C;! The issue was resolved in Graverman v. 1nited
States,H! wherein the Court e"plains,
+hether the ob#ect of a single agreement is to commit one or many crimes, it is in
either case that agreement which constitutes the conspiracy which the statute punishes.
The one agreement cannot be taDen to be several agreements and hence several
conspiracies because it envisages the violation of several statutes rather than one.9!
It is this view which is adopted in both the Model @enal Code and the present Code.
@revious *awaii law, in treating one #oining after the formation of a conspiracy as if one
had been part of it from the beginning,(! would include in oneIs criminal ob#ect those
crimes perpetrated before one #oined. *ence, under past *awaii law, if A and G
conspired to rob . and sell the stolen goods at various remote locations, C, who #oined
after the robbery of ., would be held guilty of the conspiracy to rob ., as well as of the
conspiracy to distribute the stolen goods.)! The Code, in its unilateral approach to
conspiratorial liability, holds a person liable for conspiracy only with respect to those acts
and results which the personIs agreement includes. *ence in the above e"ample, C is
liable only of conspiracy to distribute stolen goods, and not of conspiracy to commit
robbery. This result is obtained by the language reAuiring that the crimes be the ob#ect
of the same agreement or relationship into which the conspirator has entered.
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