Colorado Criminal Lawyer Series – Understanding Colorado Drug Crime Conspiracy Cases §18-2-201,-206
Colorado Criminal Lawyer Series – Understanding Colorado Drug Crime Conspiracy Cases §18-2-201,-206 – The methods use by law enforcement to investigate drug conspiracy cases and the prosecution of these crimes by District Attorney – is the subject of this brief article.
Why Charge A Drug “Conspiracy?”
The real reason one is charge with “conspiracy” is the crime itself. Very little evidence of involvement is necessary to become involved in a much larger conspiracy. The reverse side of the coin is that – notwithstanding the ease of bringing the charge – the penalties can be – and often are – very severe.
How Does The State Of Colorado PROVE A Conspiracy?
To prove a drug conspiracy, the DA need prove only that:
1. The alleged conspiracy actually existed;
2. The defendant knowingly became a member of the conspiracy with intent to further the conspiracy.
Here Are The Actual Colorado Jury Instructions On Colorado’s Law Of Conspiracy
Colorado’s Law Of Conspiracy
The elements of the crime of conspiracy are:
1. That the defendant.
2. in the State of Colorado, at or about the date and place charged,
3. with the intent to promote or facilitate the commission of the crime of (the principal crime)
4. [agreed with another person or persons that they, or one or more of them, would engage in conduct which constitutes (name of principal crime) or an attempt to commit (principal crime), -or- agreed to aid another person or persons in the planning or commission of ( the principal crime), and]
5. the defendant, or a person with whom the defendant conspired, has performed an overt act in pursuance of such conspiracy.
6. [without the affirmative defense in instruction number]
[HMS – What Exactly IS is an OVERT ACT?]
An “Overt Act” means any act knowingly committed by one of the conspirators, in an effort to accomplish some object or purpose of the conspiracy. The overt act need not be criminal in nature if committed separately and apart from the conspiracy.
It must, however, be an act that tends to accomplish the plan or scheme, and must be knowingly done in furtherance of some object or purpose of the conspiracy charged in the information [indictment].
What If There Are Multiple Conspirators And You Don’t Know Them All?
If the defendant knows that one with whom he conspires to commit a crime has conspired with another person or persons to commit the same crime, he is guilty with such other person or persons whether or not he knows their identity. [§18-2-201(3), C.R.S.]
What If You Are Mistaken As To Which Conspirator Is Performing What Function?
It is no defense to a charge of conspiracy that the defendant or the person with whom he conspires does not occupy a particular position or have a particular characteristic which is an element of the crime, so long as the defendant believes that one of them does. [§18-2-205, C.R.S.]
What If One Of The Members Is Immune From Prosecution – Does That Excuse Your Conduct? (No)
It is no defense to a charge of conspiracy that the person with whom the defendant conspires [is not legally responsible] or [has immunity to prosecution or conviction] for the commission of the crime. [§18-2-205, C.R.S.]
What If You Never Even Handled The Drugs?
The DA need not prove that the target actually ever possessed any controlled substance such as cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin. He need not even prove you ever actually did anything to actually further the conspiracy. The DA only needs to prove you became a member of the conspiracy with the specific intent to further that conspiracy.
Membership In The Drug Crimes Conspiracy Need Not Continue For The Entire Conspiracy
You also need not be a member of an ongoing conspiracy for the entire time that the conspiracy existed. Your role in the conspiracy can occur at any one or more points during the life of the conspiracy crime. Importantly – at the point that you become a member of the conspiracy – you become criminally liable for ALL of the drugs that funneled through the conspiracy that were “reasonably foreseeable” to you.
Little Evidence Is Needed To Assign You To The Framework Of The Drug Conspiracy
Mere minor involvement is needed to join you to a massive conspiracy – mere possession of information that you share with others that makes the conspiracy more successful – is enough.
How Are Colorado Drug Conspiracy Cases “Made”?
Federal and Colorado state law enforcement agencies gather evidence of drug conspiracies as they always have – using CIs and CW’s (confidential informants and cooperating witnesses). In any given conspiracy there are those at the top – in the middle – and at the bottom . The most common technique is to “indict them all” and then watch them scramble to cut deals with the prosecutor…first come – first served.
In any drug conspiracy bust – the first order of business is to “debrief” those willing to cooperate. This flushes out more evidence – leads to new search and arrest warrants – and greatly expands the net of the conspiracy.
It is an effective technique. Experienced Colorado drug crimes lawyers know when and how – where the evidence against the clients is strong – to work the defense tactic of becoming useful to the prosecution as a witness and less useful as a primary target of the case.
The Danger Of Dealing Drugs In The “Drug World”
If you decide you will make some quick money as an amateur “drug dealer” be aware that the people you will meet “in the business” – may be targets of either the Federal or State authorities and you may be “swept up” in a much larger net than you ever considered.
Typically the task force assigned to arrest you will see you as indistinguishable from others playing roles in the drug conspiracy. And you will be indicted as part of the group.
My clients often had no idea that by conspiring to buy drugs with their friends – calling or texting a “friend” to buy and use drugs together – taken as a whole is legally a “drug conspiracy.”
H. Michael Steinberg Denver Colorado Conspiracy Defense Lawyer
If you are facing drug conspiracy charges in Colorado – you need an experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyer as the defense of conspiracy cases is usually challenging these cases should be assigned ONLY to highly experienced Colorado conspiracy defense lawyers.
A felony conspiracy conviction will clearly have lengthy and serious direct and collateral consequences in your personal and professional life.
Conclusion – Colorado Criminal Lawyer Series – Understanding Colorado Drug Crime Conspiracy Cases §18-2-201,-206
In any drug conspiracy – the State of Colorado – through the prosecutor – will try to prove that:
(1) two or more persons, directly or indirectly, reached an agreement to violate the controlled substances act;
(2) those persons knew of the unlawful purpose of the agreement;
(3) the defendant joined in the agreement intentionally; and
(4) the conspiracy involved a certain type and quantity of controlled substance.
And an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy occurred in the jurisdiction in which charges are brought.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author at [email protected] – A Denver Colorado Drug Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-220-2277.
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