Pinkerton v. United States, 328 US 640 (1946)

Case Name: Pinkerton v. United States
Citation: 328 US 640 (1946)

Facts: Defendant, Daniel Pinkerton, was convicted on substantive counts that his brother, Walter committed through conspiracy. The crimes were for violations of the Internal Revenue Code (“dealing in whiskey” according to the dissent). Walter committed many of the crimes when Daniel was in prison.

State’s argument: Daniel Pinkerton can be found guilty on the substantive counts if it was found at the time of the offenses, both defendants were parties to an unlawful conspiracy and the substantive offenses were in fact committed in furtherance of it.

Defendant’s argument: In addition to evidence that the offense was committed in furtherance of the conspiracy, the state must introduce evidence of direct participation in the commission of the substantive offense or other evidence from which participation might fairly be inferred was necessary.

Reasoning: Pinkerton joined in the unlawful scheme and there was no evidence that he had disavowed or defeated the purpose of the conspiracy.

Dissent: There was no evidence that Daniel participated in, aided or abetted Water in committing the substantive crimes. Also, if the court requires an action by the defendant to show withdrawal from the conspiracy, shouldn’t going to prison be enough?

 

Pinkerton doctrine: A defendant who is guilty of conspiring to commit one offense may be convicted of other offenses that his co-conspirators commit in furtherance of the conspiracy, as long as those other offenses are reasonably foreseeable consequences of the conspiratorial agreement.

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