Pinkerton v. United States

Decision Date10 June 1946
Docket NumberNo. 719,719
Citation328 U.S. 640,66 S.Ct. 1180,90 L.Ed. 1489
PartiesPINKERTON et al. v. UNITED STATES
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

See 67 S.Ct. 26.

Mr. John S. Tucker, Jr., of Birmingham, Ala., for petitioners.

Mr. W. Marvin Smith, of Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Walter and Daniel Pinkerton are brothers who live a short distance from each other on Daniel's farm. They were indicted for violations of the Internal Revenue Code. The indictment contained ten substantive counts and one conspiracy count. The jury found Walter guilty on nine of the substantive counts and on the conspiracy count. It found Daniel guilty on six of the substantive counts and on the conspiracy count. Walter was fined $500 and sentenced generally on the substantive counts to imprisonment for thirty months. On the conspiracy count he was given a two year sentence to run concurrently with the other sentence. Daniel was fined $1,000 and sentenced generally on the substantive counts to imprisonment for thirty months. On the conspiracy count he was fined $500 and given a two year sentence to run concurrently with the other sentence. The judgments of conviction were affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals.1 151 F.2d 499. The case is here on a petition for a writ of certiorari which we granted, 66 S.Ct. 702, because one of the questions presented involved a conflict between the decision below and United States v. Sall, 116 F.2d 745, decided by the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

A single conspiracy was charged and proved. Some of the overt acts charged in the conspiracy count were the same acts charged in the substantive counts. Each of the substantive offenses found was committed pursuant to the conspiracy. Petitioners therefore contend that the substantive counts became merged in the conspiracy count, and that only a single sentence not exceeding the maximum two-year penalty provided by the conspiracy statute (Criminal Code § 37, 18 U.S.C. § 88, 18 U.S.C.A. § 88) could be imposed. Or to state the matter differently, they contend that each of the substantive counts became a separate conspiracy count but since only a single conpsiracy was charged and proved, only single sentence for conspiracy could be imposed. They rely on Braverman v. United States, 317 U.S. 49, 63 S.Ct. 99, 87 L.Ed. 23.

In the Braverman case the indictment charged no substantive offense. Each of the several counts charged a conspiracy to violate a different statute. But only one conspiracy was proved. We held that a single conspiracy, charged under the general conspiracy statute, however diverse its objects may be, violates but a single statute and no penalty greater than the maximum provided for one conspiracy may be imposed. That case is not apposite here. For the offenses charged and proved were not only a conspiracy but substantive offenses as well.

Nor can we accept the proposition that the substantive offenses were merged in the conspiracy. There are, of course, instances where a conspiracy charge may not be added to the substantive charge. One is where the agreement of two persons is necessary for the completion of the substantive crime and there is no ingredient in the conspiracy which is not present in the completed crime. See United States v. Katz, 271 U.S. 354, 355, 356, 46 S.Ct. 513, 514, 70 L.Ed. 986; Gebardi v. United States, 287 U.S. 112, 121, 122, 53 S.Ct. 35, 37, 77 L.Ed. 206, 87 A.L.R. 370. Another is where the definition of the substantive offense excludes from punishment for conspiracy one who voluntarily participates in another's crime. Gebardi v. United States, supra. But those exceptions are of a limited character. The common law rule that the substantive offense, if a felony, was merged in the conspiracy,2 has little vitality in this country.3 It has been long and consistently recognized by the Court that the commission of the substantive offense and a conspiracy to commit it are separate and distinct offenses. The power of Congress to separate the two and to affix to each a different penalty is well established. Clune v. United States, 159 U.S. 590, 594, 595, 16 S.Ct. 125, 126, 40 L.Ed. 269. A conviction for the conspiracy may be had though the substantive offense was completed. See Heike v. United States, 227 U.S. 131, 144, 33 S.Ct. 226, 228, 57 L.Ed. 450, Ann.Cas.1914C, 128. And the plea of double jeopardy is no defense to a conviction for both offenses. Carter v McClaughry, 183 U.S. 365, 395, 22 S.Ct. 181, 193, 46 L.Ed. 236. It is only an identity of offenses which is fatal. See Gavieres v. United States, 220 U.S. 338, 342, 31 S.Ct. 421, 422, 55 L.Ed. 489. Cf. Freeman v. United States, 6 Cir., 146 F.2d 978. A conspiracy is a partnership in crime. United States v. Socony-Vacuum Oil Co., 310 U.S. 150, 253, 60 S.Ct. 811, 858, 84 L.Ed. 1129. It has ingredients, as well as implications, distinct from the completion of the unlawful project. As stated in United States v. Rabinowich, 238 U.S. 78, 88, 35 S.Ct. 682, 684, 685, 59 L.Ed. 1211:

'For two or more to confederate and combine together to commit or cause to be committed a breach of the criminal laws is an offense of the gravest character, sometimes quite outweighing, in ij ury to the public, the mere commission of the contemplated crime. It involves deliberate plotting to subvert the laws, educating and preparing the conspirators for further and habitual criminal practices. And it is characterized by secrecy, rendering it difficult of detection, requiring more time for its discovery, and adding to the importance of punishing it when discovered.'

And see Sneed v. United States, 5 Cir., 298 F. 911, 912, 913; Banghart v. United States, 4 Cir., 148 F.2d 521.

Moreover, it is not material that overt acts charged in the conspiracy counts were also charged and proved as substantive offenses. As stated in Sneed v. United States, supra, 298 F. at page 913, 'If the overt act be the offense which was the object of the conspiracy, and is also punished, there is not a double punishment of it.' The agreement to do an unlawful act is even then distinct from the doing of the act.4 It is contended that there was insufficient evidence to implicate Daniel in the conspiracy. But we think there was enough evidence for submission of the issue to the jury.

There is, however, no evidence to show that Daniel participated directly in the commission of the substantive offenses on which his conviction has been sustained,5 although there was evidence to show that these substantive offenses were in fact committed by Walter in furtherance of the unlawful agreement or conspiracy existing between the brothers. The question was submitted to the jury on the theory that each petitioner could be found guilty of the substantive offenses, if it was found at the time those offenses were committed petitioners were parties to an unlawful conspiracy and the substantive offenses charged were in fact committed in furtherance of it.6

Daniel relies on United States v. Sall, supra. That case held that participation in the conspiracy was not itself enough to sustain a conviction for the substantive offense even though it was committed in furtherance of the conspiracy. The court held that, in addition to evidence that the offense was in fact committed in furtherance of the conspiracy, evidence of direct participation in the commission of the substantive offense or other evidence from which participation might fairly be inferred was necessary.

We take a different view. We have here a continuous conspiracy. There is here no evidence of the affirmative action on the part of Daniel which is necessary to establish his withdrawal from it. Hyde v. United States, 225 U.S. 347, 369, 32 S.Ct. 793, 803, 56 L.Ed. 1114, Ann.Cas.1914A, 614. As stated in that case, 'having joined in an unlawful scheme, having constituted agents for its performance, scheme and agency to be continuous until full fruition be secured, until he does some act to disavow or defeat the purpose he is in no situation to claim the delay of the law. As the offense has not been terminated or accomplished, he is still offending. And we think, consciously offending,—offending as certainly, as we have said, as at the first moment of his confederation, and consciously through every moment of its existence.' Id., 225 U.S. at page 369, 32 S.Ct. at page 803. And so long as the partnership in crime continues, the partners act for each other in carrying it forward. It is settled that 'an overt act of one partner may be the act of all without any new agreement specifically directed to that act.' United States v. Kissel, 218 U.S. 601, 608, 31 S.Ct. 124, 126, 54 L.Ed. 1168. Motive or intent may be proved by the acts or declarations of some of the conspirators in furtherance of the common objective. Wiborg v. United States, 163 U.S. 632, 657, 658, 16 S.Ct. 1127, 1137, 1197, 46 L.Ed. 289. A scheme to use the mails to defraud, which is joined in by more than one person, is a conspiracy. Cochran v. United States, 8 Cir., 41 F.2d 193, 199, 200. Yet all members are responsible, though only one did the mailing. Cochran v. United States, supra; Mackett v. United States, 7 Cir., 90 F.2d 462, 464; Baker v. United States, 8 Cir., 115 F.2d 533, 540; Blue v. United States, 6 Cir., 138 F.2d 351, 359. The governing principle is the same when the substantive offense is committed by one of the conspirators in furtherance of the unlawful project. Johnson v. United States, 9 Cir., 62 F.2d 32, 34. The criminal intent to do the act is established by the formation of the conspiracy. Each conspirator instigated the commission of the crime. The unlawful agreement contemplated precisely what was done. It was formed for the purpose. The act done was in execution of the enterprise. The rule which holds responsible one who counsels, procures, or commands another to commit a crime is founded on the same...

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