Pinkerton v. U.S

328 U.S. 640, 66 S. Ct. 1180 (1946)



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 consciously offending, offending as certainly as at the first moment of his confederation, and consciously through every moment of its existence. And so long as the partnership in crime continues, the partners act for each other in carrying it forward. An overt act of one partner may be the act of all without any new agreement specifically directed to that act. The criminal intent to do the act is established by the formation of the conspiracy.


Defendants were convicted of conspiracy to violate the Internal Revenue Code and of several substantive violations of the Code. Each of the substantive offenses found was committed pursuant to the conspiracy. Therefore, defendants contended that the substantive counts became merged in the conspiracy count, and that only a single sentence not exceeding the maximum penalty provided by the conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C.S. § 88, could be imposed.


Whether substantive offenses in the Internal Revenue Code are merged in a conspiracy to violate it .




The commission of the substantive offenses and the conspiracy were separate and distinct offenses and that it was proper to impose separate sentences. The offense charged and proved were not only a conspiracy but substantive offenses as well. The principle that substantive offenses are merged in a conspiracy is more of an exception of limited character rather than the general rule. The general rule is the commission of the substantive offense and a conspiracy to commit it are separate and distinct offenses. Additionally, the Court held that although one of the defendants did not participate directly in the commission of the substantive offenses, the jury was properly instructed that each defendant could be found guilty of the substantive offenses if it was found that both defendants were parties to the unlawful conspiracy.

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