Drug Conspiracy-FEDERAL

FEDERAL DRUG CONSPIRACY CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY- ALEXANDRIA, HARRISONBURG, RICHMOND, CHARLOTTESVILLE, GREENBELT, BALTIMORE, WASHINGTON, DC, NORFOLK, ROANOKE

VIRGINIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER - Alexandria, Arlington, Baltimore, Charlottesville, Culpepper, Fairfax, Falls Church, Greenbelt, Harrisonburg, Leesburg, Loudoun County, Manassas, Norfolk, Prince William, Richmond, Roanoke, Stafford, Warrenton, Winchester, Vienna, Washington, DC.

Federal Drug Conspiracy- 21 U.S.C. 846  

To be convicted of the federal drug crime of drug conspiracy, the government must prove the following three (3) essential elements beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) two or more persons reached an agreement or came to an understanding to distribute a controlled substance; (2) the Accused voluntarily and intentionally joined in the agreement or understanding, either at the time it was first reached or at some later time while it was still in effect; and (3), at the time the Accused joined in the agreement or understanding, the Accused knew the purpose of the agreement or understanding.

A criminal conspiracy is an agreement or a mutual understanding knowingly made or knowingly entered into by at least two people to violate the law by some joint or common plan or course of action. A conspiracy is, in a very true sense, a partnership in crime.

A conspiracy or agreement to violate the law, like any other kind of agreement or understanding, need not be formal, written, or even expressed directly in every detail.

The government must prove that Accused and at least one other person knowingly and deliberately arrived at an agreement or understanding that they, and perhaps others, would violate the law by means of some common plan or course of action.

It is proof of this conscious understanding and deliberate agreement by the alleged members that is central to the charge of conspiracy.

To prove the existence of a conspiracy or an illegal agreement, the government is not required to produce a written contract between the parties or even produce evidence of an express oral agreement spelling out all of the details of the understanding. To prove that a conspiracy existed, moreover, the government is not required to show that all of the people named in the indictment as members of the conspiracy were, in fact, parties to the agreement, or that all of the members of the alleged conspiracy were named or charged, or that all of the people whom the evidence shows were actually members of a conspiracy agreed to all of the means or methods set out in the indictment.

Further, the fact that the Accused did not join the agreement at its beginning, or did not know all of the details of the agreement, or did not participate in each act of the agreement, or did not play a major role in accomplishing the unlawful goal is not a defense to the charge of conspiracy.

A conspirator is liable for all acts and all declarations of co-conspirators made or done in furtherance of the conspiracy, including those occurring prior to his or her joining the conspiracy.

The government is not required to prove that the parties to or members of the alleged agreement or conspiracy were successful in achieving any or all of the objects of the agreement or conspiracy.

It is a defense to the charge of conspiracy that the Accused withdrew from the conspiracy before the commission of any “overt act” in furtherance of the conspiracy.

The term “overt act” means some type of outward, objective action performed by one of the parties to or one of the members of the agreement or conspiracy that evidences the agreement.

Merely associating with others and discussing common goals, mere similarity of conduct between or among such persons, merely being present at the place where a crime takes place or is discussed, or even knowing about criminal conduct does not, of itself, make someone a member of the conspiracy or a conspirator

Mere knowledge or approval, without participation, does not make one a party to a conspiracy.

Mere association does not establish a conspiracy

The term “controlled substance” means a drug or other substance, or immediate precursor, included in schedule I, II, III, IV, or V of part B of title 21 U.S.C. 812. The term does not include distilled spirits, wine, malt beverages, or tobacco, as those terms are defined or used in subtitle E of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.

 The term “narcotic drug” means any of the following whether produced directly or indirectly by extraction from substances of vegetable origin, or independently by means of chemical synthesis, or by a combination of extraction and chemical synthesis:
(A) Opium, opiates, derivatives of opium and opiates …

(B) A compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, or preparation of opium, coca leaves, or opiates.
(C) A substance (and any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, or preparation thereof) which is chemically identical with any of the substances referred to in clause (A) or (B).

(D) Cocaine, its salts, optical and geometric isomers, and salts of isomers.

(F) Any compound, mixture, or preparation which contains any quantity of any of the substances referred to in subparagraphs (A) through (E)

The government need not prove the actual amount of the controlled substance.  The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, however, that a measurable amount of the controlled substance was, in fact, knowingly and intentionally possessed by the Accused.

It is also not necessary for the government to prove that the Accused knew the precise nature of the controlled substance or narcotic drug that was possessed. The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, however, that Accused did know that some type of controlled substance or narcotic drug was possessed.

In cases where the Accused is charged with conspiring to distribute multiple drugs, e.g., a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, the government may offer proof that there was a conspiracy to distribute one or both of the controlled substances.  If the evidence is not clear as to which substance was involved in a conspiracy, the jury must specify which controlled substance(s) the conspiracy involved because of disparate sentencing ranges for different controlled substances.

 
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