Conspiracy is an agreement between 2 or more persons to commit a particular crime. To prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt the prosecution must establish the conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt.
An agreement is the coming together or meeting of the minds of 2 or more people with each person intending and expressing the same purpose. The agreement does not have to be formal or written. In deciding whether or not there was a conspiracy the jury considers how the members of the alleged conspiracy acted – what they said, what they did, as well as any other evidence.
Conspirators in Michigan must do more than agree – they must intend to further promote or cooperate in the unlawful act. The jury must decide if the Defendant in which it is sitting in judgment was a member of the conspiracy in question. If the person was only merely present with other people who were members of the conspiracy, it is not enough by itself to prove that the person was also a member. Furthermore, the fact that a person did an act that furthered the conspiracy is also not enough to prove that the person was a member of the the conspiracy. It is not necessary for all the members to know each other or know all the details of how the crime will be committed, but it must be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the person agreed to commit the crime and intended to either commit the offense or to help commit it.
A person is not responsible for the acts of the other members of the conspiracy unless those acts are part of the agreement or if it furthers the purposes of the agreement. For example, a person that is part of a conspiracy to rob a bank is not guilty of a conspiracy to sell drugs that he or she was not involved in which may have involved other members of the conspiracy. A person who joins a conspiracy after it has already started is only responsible for what he or she agreed to when joining, not for any agreement made by the conspiracy before he or she joined. Members of the conspiracy are not responsible for what other members do or say after the conspiracy ends.
Each person on trial for a conspiracy is entitled to have his or her guilt or innocence decided upon individually. However, in conspiracy cases it is often difficult to decide each person’s case on its own because of the amount of evidence that is admitted against the other Defendants. Even if a conspiracy exists, the jury must still determine whether the particular defendant or defendants that they are presiding over were members of the conspiracy in question.