Thursday, November 21, 2013

United States v. Recio case brief

United States v. Recio case brief summary
537 U.S. 270 (2003)

Respondents were convicted of conspiracy to possess and to distribute unlawful drugs, but asserted that there was no evidence that respondents joined the conspiracy prior to the time petitioner government seized the subject drugs. Upon the grant of a writ of certiorari, the government appealed the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit which reversed respondents' conspiracy convictions.

After a vehicle transporting drugs was seized by the government, the truck drivers assisted the government by continuing to their destination, at which point respondents were arrested when they took possession of the truck. Respondents contended that the object of the conspiracy was defeated before respondents joined the conspiracy, and thus respondents could not be convicted of conspiracy.

  • The United States Supreme Court held, however, that the conspiracy did not automatically terminate simply because the government, unbeknownst to respondents, defeated the conspiracy's object by seizing the drugs before respondents became involved in the conspiracy. 
  • Conspiracy was a distinct evil which could be prosecuted regardless of whether the substantive drug offense ultimately ensued, and respondents' agreement to commit the crime, rather than the crime itself, was the essence of the conspiracy.

The judgment reversing respondents' conspiracy convictions was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

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