Braverman v. United States

317 U.S. 49, 63 S. Ct. 99 (1942)



The allegation in a single count of a conspiracy to commit several crimes is not duplicitous, for the conspiracy is the crime, and that is one, however diverse its objects. A conspiracy is not the commission of the crime which it contemplates, and neither violates nor arises under the statute whose violation is its object. 


Defendants were indicted on seven counts each charging a conspiracy, in violation of § 37 of the Criminal Code, the conspiracy statute, to violate a separate internal revenue law. The trial judge submitted the case to the jury on the theory that the seven counts charged as distinct offenses were the several illegal objects of one continuing conspiracy, and that if the jury found a conspiracy it could find defendants guilty of as many offenses as it had illegal objects. Further, for each such offense the two-year statutory penalty could be imposed. The jury found defendants guilty, the trial court sentenced each to eight years imprisonment, and the appeals court affirmed. Defendants sought a writ of certiorari and the court reversed and remanded for resentencing.


 Was the single agreement to commit acts in violation of several penal statutes to be punished as a single act of conspiracy?




The single agreement was the prohibited conspiracy. However diverse its objects, the agreement violated only the conspiracy statute. Accordingly, only the single penalty prescribed by the statute could be imposed. Further the statute of limitations for offenses arising under the conspiracy statute where the object was to attempt to evade or defeat any tax or payment thereof was six years.

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