Many St. Louis residents would never imagine they could be held accountable for the actions of their friends, coworkers or even people they have never met. While that notion may sound odd, it is a regular occurrence in the criminal justice system under drug conspiracy laws.
When the government makes an allegation of conspiracy, it is alleging that two or more individuals agreed to commit an unlawful act. Many times, there are many more than two individuals charged, as entire groups of people can be charged together, even if they have little or no relationship to each other, or even if they have never met the other individuals also accused of conspiring according to the government.
For instance, one conspiracy charge by the government recently involved 24 separate individuals. Many of the individuals pleaded guilty, but for the one individual who allegedly ran the organization and directed the transport of marijuana from another state to the St. Louis area.
While the number of individuals involved in the case was high, the basic structure of the case was not unique, as allegations of conspiracy often involve multiple people. The government typically tries to enter into plea agreements with some of these defendants. This may work in the government's favor where the government can then have those defendants testify against the remaining persons charged.
Accordingly, defendants need to understand the allegations and the type of defense options they have against the charges. With significant prison time a possibility in the event of a conviction, it is essential that individuals charged with conspiracy vigorously defend themselves with the assistance of a defense attorney.
Source: Riverfront Times, "CEO of marijuana transport co. with members named 'Soup' and 'Nut' sentenced to 30 years," Ray Downs, March 14, 2014