Friday, May 11, 2012

Quantum of evidence for drug conspiracy

US v. Edmonds:   A jury convicted Edmonds of a single conspiracy count to traffic more than 50 grams of crack, and three counts of crack distribution. This appellant challenged the jury’s findings that he participated in a drug conspiracy, in addition to two sentencing challenges. The Fourth Circuit affirmed.

According to the Fourth Circuit, conspiracy is proved by demonstrating agreement or understanding between two or more persons to commit an offense. Additionally, when the conspiracy involves the sale of cocaine, a conspiracy to commit the distribution of cocaine must involve an agreement separate from the distribution conduct that is the object of the conspiracy. If the drug transaction includes in addition to the bare agreement inherent in a sale, an agreement that the buyer will resell the cocaine in the marketplace, the two participants to the distribution transaction have also "conspired" to the redistribution of cocaine, and thus, they can be guilty of the distribution offense, and a conspiracy offense.

The government does not need to prove an explicit agreement occurred. Some types of indirect evidence that will suffice for a conviction include the amount of cocaine involved in a transaction; the regularity of drug transactions between two parties; the "fronting" of drugs for payment later, which implied a sort of credit arrangement; and essentially any agreement made in addition to or beyond a simple buy-sell transaction can be used to infer a conspiratorial relationship. The agreement which forms a conspiracy, however, cannot exist between an individual and a government agent.

Here, the statements the appellant made during several controlled purchases conducted in this case were used to establish the conspiracy, especially his comment, "you know me." 

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