Part 8: Conspiracies | Defenses | Buyer – Seller relationship is Insufficient to show a conspiracy

“A relationship of mere seller and buyer, with the seller having no stake in what the buyer does with the goods, shows the absence of a conspiracy, because it is missing the element of an agreement for redistribution.” United States v. Loveland, 825 F.3d 555, 562 (9th Cir. 2016). Evidence showing that the seller probably knew the buyer was reselling the drugs based on the quantities and repeated sales between the two is insufficient by itself to establish an agreement for redistribution. See id.

A buyer-seller relationship between a defendant and another person, standing alone, cannot support a conviction for conspiracy. The fact that a defendant may have bought a controlled substance from another person or sold a controlled substance to another person is not sufficient without more to establish that the defendant was a member of the charged conspiracy. Instead, a conviction for conspiracy requires proof of an agreement to commit a crime beyond that of the mere sale.

In considering whether the evidence supports the existence of a conspiracy or the existence of a buyer-seller relationship, the jury should consider all the evidence, including the following factors:

(1) whether the sales were made on credit or consignment;
(2) the frequency of the sales;
(3) the quantity of the sales;
(4) the level of trust demonstrated between the buyer and the seller, including the use of codes;
(5) the length of time during which the sales were ongoing;
(6) whether the transactions were standardized;
(7) whether the parties advised each other on the conduct of the other’s business;
(8) whether the buyer assisted the seller by looking for other customers;
(9) and whether the parties agreed to warn each other of potential threats from competitors or law enforcement.

These are merely a list of relevant factors to aid the jury in analyzing the evidence; the presence or absence of any single factor is not determinative.

Full case here: United States v. Loveland, 825 F.3d 555 (2016),

Please watch:
Part 1: Introduction to Conspiracy Law. Multi-part series exploring criminal conspiracy cases.

Part 2: Conspiracies | Pinkerton Liability | Co-conspirators responsible for each others crimes.

Part 3: Conspiracies | Elements of the crime and Overt Act definition from U.S. v. Rabinowich

Part 4: Conspiracies | Prejudicial Joinder, extrajudicial confession implicates a co-defendant.

Part 5: Conspiracies | Rebuttal use of co-defendant’s statements in trial. Confrontation Clause.

Part 6: Conspiracies | Defenses | Withdrawal (leaving) from the conspiracy. Schorovsky case

Part 7: Conspiracies | Defenses | Mere Presence and Mere Association Does Not Equal Co-conspirator.

Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
LAWSTACHE™ LAW FIRM | Criminal Defense and Business Law
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