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There may be conviction of both a conspiracy and a completed offense committed pursuant to that conspiracy if the prosecution shows that the objective of the conspiracy was the commission of additional offenses.
The case arose from two incidents. Four men robbed a café, the bartender then alerted the police. They came immediately to the scene, gathered information, and obtained identification of the robber. Thereafter, they also heard that a robbery had taken place at the Edison Motor Lodge. At the lodge, the night manager reported that defendants Kenneth Hardison and Jerry Jackson, had come into the premises and asked about the price of a room. They went out, came back in with a gun, and robbed him at gunpoint of the motel's property. Defendants were taken to the police station and were charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, four counts of robbery, possession of a gun for an unlawful purpose and aggravated assault. Defendant Hardison was charged with possession of brass knuckles for an unlawful purpose. The jury acquitted two defendants of the robbery at the cafe, but convicted them on all other charges. Each was sentenced to an aggregate term of twenty years with five years of parole ineligibility. Separate and consecutive sentences were imposed on the conspiracy and robbery counts. On appeal, the appellate division, affirmed on all issues but merger, concluding that because the illegal agreement included robbery and the jury found defendants guilty of the motel robbery within the ambit of the conspiracy, the convictions for both the conspiracy and the robbery were barred. It also ruled that the convictions of unlawful possession of a handgun and robbery should be merged. Appellant State of New Jersey challenged the order which merged respondents' convictions of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.
Did the court err in merging the convictions of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery?
The court affirmed the decision of the appellate court that merged the convictions of conspiracy with the completed offenses. The court ruled that, if the conspiracy proven had criminal objectives other than the substantive offense proven, the offenses would not merge, however, defendants’ convictions did not establish that the conspiracy embraced criminal objectives in addition to the offenses proven. The court, thus, concluded that the offenses were merged pursuant to N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:1-8a(2) because the conspiracy embraced the criminal objectives of the robbery.