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Proving Intent in Maryland Federal Conspiracy Cases

In a federal conspiracy case, the government must show that more than one person had an agreement to perform a criminal act to engage in criminal conduct. The type of underlying criminal conduct determines where they look and what they try to prove. In a case of drug distribution or a drug trafficking conspiracy, the government must show that the persons they want to charge with conspiracy crimes had an agreement to take part in the drug distribution or drug trafficking conspiracy. When a case involves fraudulent conduct, the prosecution must prove that the co-conspirator made an agreement with one or more other people to engage in fraudulent conduct.

A prosecutor needs evidence will proving intent in Maryland federal conspiracy cases. A person should consult a seasoned conspiracy lawyer who can challenge evidence and determine the best course of action.

Elements in a Case

There could be a situation where an individual agrees to assist someone, not realizing that the other person is engaged in criminal conduct. For example, a person might ask their neighbor for a ride to the post office to pick up a package. At the post office, the person is arrested and the police come out and arrest the neighbor because the package involved the transportation of a large quantity of cocaine. While the person agreed to take their neighbor to pick up the package, they did not have the intent to be involved in criminal activities. The prosecution must prove intent. On occasion, someone makes an admission in an email or the person is arrested and then makes an admission to law enforcement agents about their intent to be involved in criminal conduct. When a person does not admit their intent or is not recorded making statements about their involvement, their intent is proven by circumstantial evidence.

The fact that someone is repeatedly engaged in conduct that involves the distribution of drugs with other people tends to show that the person conspired with those other people to engage in that conduct. The prosecution relies on all of the evidence gathered by the law enforcement agents including surveillance, wiretaps, witnesses, pictures, drugs, or other evidence of the crime to show that the individuals acted in concert to accomplish the criminal act that is the target of a conspiracy charge. These types of elements are used in proving intent in Maryland federal conspiracy cases.

Proving Intent

The prosecution must prove intent to secure a conviction. How they do so depends on the facts of the case and the evidence. Their best evidence is some form of admission, orally or in writing, from the person who intended to engage in the criminal conduct. Absent that, the prosecution must use other evidence such as testimony from other witnesses, surveillance, or wiretaps. In a conspiracy case, the evidence must show that the individual was engaged in the conduct knowingly and intentionally with other people.

Types of Evidence

In conspiracy cases, the prosecution uses wiretaps, extensive surveillance, witnesses, documentary evidence, and video, photographic or audio evidence to prove intent. Phone records, emails, texts can be used in a conspiracy case to show the coordinated actions by multiple people engaged in the criminal conduct.

The use of wiretaps is prevalent in proving intent in Maryland federal conspiracy cases. Wiretaps are not employed in most cases involving a single person who is not acting in concert with others. The government is best able to show the coordinated actions and communications amongst the co-conspirators through the use of wiretaps.