Despite the inherent vagueness of the crime of conspiracy, it may be said to require an agreement between two or more persons, which constitutes the criminal act, and an intent to thereby achieve a certain unlawful act. However, it is difficult to divide conspiracy into the elements of criminal act and criminal intent because the act of agreement, since it is volitional, also requires an intent. Some jurisdictions also require an overt act in furtherance of the agreement; however, if the agreement is established, virtually any overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy will suffice. The elements of conspiracy are difficult to analyze because of the predominantly mental nature of the crime. For this reason, a great deal of uncertainty exists concerning the quantum of evidence necessary to prove the elements of conspiracy. This uncertainty is compounded by the clandestine nature of conspiracy and the difficulty of producing direct evidence. Thus courts have held that a charge of conspiracy may be sustained by proof of surrounding facts and circumstances which infers clear cooperation between the parties. However, it has been suggested that courts have occasionally been too enthusiastic in their reliance on circumstantial evidence. Recently in the case of State v. Dent, the Nebraska Supreme Court was directly confronted with issues regarding the quantum of evidence necessary to prove the elements of conspiracy. The purpose of this article is to analyze the court's opinion, focusing both upon what the court said and what it did not say, and to consider the possible implications of the court's holding.
Lynne Rae Fritz,
Conspiracy: The Requisite Proof: State v. Dent, 198 Neb. 110, 251 N.W.2d 734 (1977),
56 Neb. L. Rev. 896
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol56/iss4/7