In this case, the court determined that the inchoate offenses of four counts of conspiracy should be merged into one count of conspiracy. However, the court did not agree that the remaining conspiracy count should be merged with the underlying offense of attempted armed robbery. When discussing the issue of merging inchoate offenses with an underlying completed offense, it is necessary to make the distinction between conspiracy and other types of inchoate offenses.
Standards for Inchoate Offenses
Inchoate law often results in confusion due to the different standards that apply to different types of inchoate offenses. There are three primary types of inchoate offenses, including attempt, solicitation and conspiracy. Both attempt and solicitation are merged into the target crime if a conviction is made, while conspiracy is lawfully punished as a related yet distinct crime. According to current inchoate laws, it is reasonable to punish an offender for conspiracy as well as the target offense.
In the case of George J. Carroll v. State of Maryland No. 126, the court found the defendant clearly responsible for both attempted armed robbery and conspiracy. Multiple convictions of conspiracy would not have been justified, but the merged conspiracy convictions satisfied state standards for fairness. Conspiracy is unique among other inchoate offenses in the sense that it is possible to conspire to commit a crime without successfully committing it.
The Legal Purpose of Multiple Offenses
Without the ability to punish conspiracy in addition to a target offense, the state would be at a loss in dealing with cases in which there is clear evidence of conspiracy but not sufficient evidence for the conviction of the target crime.
Academic Support for Conspiracy Convictions
Cornell University Law School supports this argument in its documentation on inchoate offenses, which affirms that conspiracy is treated differently from solicitation and attempt. Cornell defines conspiracy as "an agreement between two or more people to commit an illegal act, along with an intent to achieve the agreement's goal." It is clear by these standards that, while conspiracy relates to a target act, the act of conspiring to break the law is in itself punishable by law.