Kenneth Vercammen is a Middlesex County trial attorney who has published 130 articles in national and New Jersey publications on Criminal Law and litigation topics. Appointments can be scheduled at 732-572-0500. More information at www.njlaws.com. Mr. Vercammen was awarded the NJ State State Bar Municipal Court Practitioner of the Year. He lectures and handles criminal cases, Municipal Court, DWI, traffic and other litigation matters. He is Co- Chair of the ABA Criminal Law Committee,GP and lectured at the ABA Annual Meeting attended by 10,000 attorneys and professionals. Mr. Vercammen is known as Mr. Municipal Court at the Bar Association seminars.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

2C:5-2. Conspiracy Conspiracy

2C:5-2. Conspiracy Conspiracy. a. Definition of conspiracy. A person is guilty of conspiracy with another person or persons to commit a crime if with the purpose of promoting or facilitating its commission he:
(1) Agrees with such other person or persons that they or one or more of them will engage in conduct which constitutes such crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime; or

(2) Agrees to aid such other person or persons in the planning or commission of such crime or of an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime.

b. Scope of conspiratorial relationship. If a person guilty of conspiracy, as defined by subsection a. of this section, knows that a person with whom he conspires to commit a crime has conspired with another person or persons to commit the same crime, he is guilty of conspiring with such other person or persons, whether or not he knows their identity, to commit such crime.

c. Conspiracy with multiple objectives. If a person conspires to commit a number of crimes, he is guilty of only one conspiracy so long as such multiple crimes are the object of the same agreement or continuous conspiratorial relationship. It shall not be a defense to a charge under this section that one or more of the objectives of the conspiracy was not criminal; provided that one or more of its objectives or the means of promoting or facilitating an objective of the conspiracy is criminal.

d. Overt act. No person may be convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime other than a crime of the first or second degree or distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog as defined in chapter 35 of this title, unless an overt act in pursuance of such conspiracy is proved to have been done by him or by a person with whom he conspired.

e. Renunciation of purpose. It is an affirmative defense which the actor must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he, after conspiring to commit a crime, informed the authority of the existence of the conspiracy and his participation therein, and thwarted or caused to be thwarted the commission of any offense in furtherance of the conspiracy, under circumstances manifesting a complete and voluntary renunciation of criminal purpose as defined in 2C:5-1d.; provided, however, that an attempt as defined in 2C:5-1 shall not be considered an offense for purposes of renunciation under this subsection.

f. Duration of conspiracy. For the purpose of section 2C:1-6d.:

(1) Conspiracy is a continuing course of conduct which terminates when the crime or crimes which are its object are committed or the agreement that they be committed is abandoned by the defendant and by those with whom he conspired; and

(2) Such abandonment is presumed with respect to a crime other than one of the first or second degree if neither the defendant nor anyone with whom he conspired does any overt act in pursuance of the conspiracy during the applicable period of limitation; and

(3) If an individual abandons the agreement, the conspiracy is terminated as to him only if and when he advises those with whom he conspired of his abandonment or he informs the law enforcement authorities of the existence of the conspiracy and of his participation therein.

g. Leader of organized crime. A person is a leader of organized crime if he purposefully conspires with others as an organizer, supervisor or manager, to commit a continuing series of crimes which constitute a pattern of racketeering activity under the provisions of N.J.S. 2C:41-1, provided, however, that notwithstanding 2C:1-8a. (2), a conviction of leader of organized crime shall not merge with the conviction of any other crime which constitutes racketeering activity under 2C:41-1.

L. 1978, c. 95; amended by L. 1979, c. 178, s. 17; 1981, c. 167, s. 3; 1981, c. 290, s. 10; 1981, c. 511, s. 1; 1987, c. 106, s. 4.

If someone is charged with CONSPIRACY (N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2), the Judge will read the following instructions and law to the jury:

Under the __________ count of the indictment the defendant(s) is (are) charged with the crime of conspiracy to commit _____________. N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 provides as follows:

A person is guilty of conspiracy with another person or persons to commit a crime if with the purpose of promoting or facilitating its commission he/she:

(SELECT APPROPRIATE SECTION)

(1) Agrees with such other person or persons that they or one or more of them will engage in conduct which constitutes such crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime; or

(2) Agrees to aid such other person or persons in the planning or commission of such crime or of an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime.

A conspiracy to commit the crime of ________________is a crime in itself separate and distinct from the crime of _______________. In other words, a defendant may be found guilty of the crime of conspiracy regardless of whether that defendant is guilty or not guilty of the crime of _____________________. In order for you to find a defendant guilty of the crime of conspiracy, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements:

(1) That the defendant agreed with another person or persons that they or one or more of them would engage in conduct which constitutes a crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime;

OR

That the defendant agreed to aid another person or persons in the planning or commission of a crime or of an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime.

(2) That the defendant's purpose was to promote or facilitate the commission of the crime of (Identify substantive offense).

A person acts purposely with respect to the nature of (his/her) conduct or a result thereof, if it is (his/her) conscious object to engage in conduct of that nature or cause such a result. A person acts purposely with respect to attendant circumstances if (he/she) is aware of the existence of such circumstances or (he/she) believes or hopes that they exist.

(CHARGE THE FOLLOWING FOR CRIMES OF THE THIRD AND FOURTH DEGREE - EXCEPT FOR CRIMES ALLEGING DISTRIBUTION OR POSSESSION WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE CDS OR CDS ANALOG)1

(3) That the defendant or a person with whom he/she conspired did an overt act in pursuance of the conspiracy. An overt act is any act in pursuance of the conspiracy.2

In order to find a defendant guilty of the crime of conspiracy, the State does not have to prove that (he/she) actually committed the crime of (Identify substantive offense). However, to decide whether the State has proven the crime of conspiracy you must understand what constitutes the crime of

(IF NOT PREVIOUSLY STATED GIVE MODEL CHARGE

FOR THE UNDERLYING OFFENSE)

A conspiracy may be proven by direct or circumstantial evidence. It is not essential that there be direct contact among all of the conspirators or that they enter the agreement at the same time. If the defendant is aware that any person (he/she) conspired with also conspired with others to commit the same crime, the defendant is guilty of conspiring with the others. He/she need not be aware of their identity. Mere association, acquaintance, or family relationship with an alleged conspirator is not enough to establish a defendant's guilt of conspiracy. Nor is mere awareness of the conspiracy. Nor would it be sufficient for the State to prove only that the defendant met with others, or that they discussed names and interests in common. However, any of these factors, if present, may be taken into consideration along with all other relevant evidence in your deliberations.

You have to decide whether the defendant's purpose was that he/she or a person with whom he/she was conspiring would commit the crime of _________________. For him/her to be found guilty of conspiracy, the State has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that when he/she agreed it was his/her conscious object or purpose to promote or make it easier to commit the crime(s) or (Identify substantive offense). The nature of the purpose with which the defendant acted is a question of fact for you the jury to decide. Purpose is a condition of the mind which cannot be seen and can only be determined by inferences from conduct, words or acts. It is not necessary for the State to produce a witness or witnesses who could testify that the defendant stated, for example, that he/she acted with a specific purpose. It is within your power to find that proof of purpose has been furnished beyond a reasonable doubt by inferences which may arise from the nature of the acts and the surrounding circumstances. It also makes no difference what the person or persons with whom the defendant actually conspired had in mind, so long as the defendant believed that he/she was furthering the commission of the crime of ____________________________.

(CHARGE THE FOLLOWING ONLY FOR THOSE CRIMES FOR WHICH IT IS NECESSARY TO PROVE OVERT ACTS, NAMELY ALL THIRD AND FOURTH DEGREE CRIMES EXCEPT THOSE ALLEGING DISTRIBUTION OR POSSESSION WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE CDS OR CDS ANALOG)

I have already explained that to find the defendant guilty of conspiracy you have to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that he/she agreed with somebody in the manner and with the purpose I described. In addition, for this type of conspiracy, one of the conspirators must have done at least one overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy, that is, any act directed toward the objective of committing the crime of (Identify substantive offense).3 The State is not required to prove an overt act by every conspirator. The State is only obligated to prove one overt act by any conspirator.

WHERE APPLICABLE, SET FORTH THE OVERT ACTS IN EVIDENCE.

In order to convict you have to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the State has proven an overt act by a conspirator in furtherance of the conspiracy.4

In summary, the State must prove the following elements:

(1) That the defendant agreed with another person or persons that they or one or more of them would engage in conduct which constitutes a crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime;

OR

That the defendant agreed to aid another person or persons in the planning or commission of a crime or of an attempt or solicitation to commit a crime.

(2) That defendant's purpose was to promote or facilitate the commission of the crime of ___________________________.

(CHARGE THIRD ELEMENT BELOW - ONLY FOR CRIMES OF THE THIRD AND FOURTH DEGREE -- EXCEPT FOR CRIMES ALLEGING DISTRIBUTION OR POSSESSION WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE CDS OR CDS ANALOG)

(3) That defendant or a person with whom he/she conspired did an overt act in pursuance of the conspiracy.

If, after consideration of all the evidence you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the State has proven all of these elements, then you must find the defendant guilty of the crime of conspiracy. On the other hand, if you find that the State has failed to prove to your satisfaction beyond a reasonable doubt any one or more of these elements, then you must find the defendant not guilty of the crime of conspiracy.

[CHARGE THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH WHEN APPROPRIATE]

Each offense and each defendant in this indictment should be considered by you separately. The fact that you may find a particular defendant guilty or not guilty of a particular crime should not control your verdict as to any other offense charged against that defendant, and it should not control your verdict as to the charges against any other defendant.

1 See State v. Carbone, 10 N.J. 329 (1952).

2 Under 2C:2-1(b) an omission may under certain circumstances constitute an act.

3 See footnote 2.

4 Where appropriate charge Conspiracy-Renunciation (N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2e) - See Model Charge.

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