A Conspiracy Does Not Exist if One of the Co-Conspirators is a Law Enforcement Agent

           In the case of Sheriff versus State of Florida, an individual named Myron Sheriff was convicted of conspiracy to traffic in heroin.  He appealed his conviction to Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal.  That appellate court reversed his conviction and in doing so stated the following:

 

          1.  A conspiracy is either an express or implied agreement between two or more persons to commit a criminal offense.

 

          2.  In order to prove the crime of conspiracy, a prosecutor must prove an agreement and an intention to commit a criminal offense.

 

          3.  Conspiracy is a separate and distinct crime from the offense that is the object of the conspiracy.

 

          4.  Evidence that an individual assisted in the commission of the criminal offense is not, by itself, sufficient to prove that he participated in the conspiracy.

 

          5.  In this case, the prosecutor failed to prove that Mr. Sheriff entered into an agreement to traffic in heroin with codefendant Laura Arroyo or with an unindicted co-conspirator identified as “Solon."   At most, the evidence showed only an agreement between Sheriff and someone named Siegel who was working for the police as a confidential informant.  However, a conspiracy does not exist if one of the two co-conspirators is a government agent.

 

          6.  Insofar as co-defendant Arroyo was concerned, the evidence established that she was simply present at the scene of Mr. Sheriff's drug transaction with the confidential informant and that she allowed Sheriff to drive her car to that location.   This evidence, even when combined with Sheriff's statement following his arrest that Arroyo “knew what was going on,” was not sufficient to establish a criminal conspiracy between Arroyo and Sheriff.

 

          7.  Finally, Sheriff's mere statement to the police that a man named “Solon” was his heroin supplier was likewise insufficient to support his conspiracy conviction because no evidence was presented at trial proving that Sheriff actually contacted or conspired with "Solon" or that such a person even existed.

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