Police were investigating illegal call-girl activity. Many girls were utilizing D's telephone answering service to get jobs.
D and three prostitutes were arrested. D admitted that he knew some of his customers were prostitutes.
D was indicted for conspiracy to commit prostitution.
Trial court set aside the indictment.
CA COA 2nd District affirmed.
Is a supplier of goods or services criminally liable when he knows his product is being used to assist the operation of an illegal business?
Both the element of knowledge of the illegal use of the goods or services and the element of intent to further that use must be present in order to make the supplier a participant in a criminal conspiracy.
For the element of intent, the intent of a supplier who knows of the criminal use to which his supplies are put to participate in the criminal activity connected with the use of his supplies may be established by
Direct evidence that he intends to participate or
Through an inference that he intends to participate based on
His special interest in the activity or
The aggravated nature of the crime itself.
The Falcone case said that knowledge that the goods were being used illegally was not sufficient to prove conspiracy.
The Direct Sales case said that knowledge along with a large volume of sales that exceed normal demand may prove conspiracy.
The distinction between these two cases may rest on the relative danger of the goods being supplied. (morphine v. sugar)
The element of knowledge is not at issue in this case; D knew that his services were being used for illegal purposes.
The element of intent is not so clear in this case. Intent may be inferred from knowledge when…
The supplier of the legal goods for illegal use has acquired a stake in the venture.
No legitimate use for the goods or services exists.
The volume of business with the buyer is grossly disproportionate to any legitimate demand or when sales for illegal use amount to a high proportion of the seller's total business.
It seems apparent that a supplier who furnishes equipment which he knows will be used to commit a serious crime may be deemed from the knowledge alone to have intended to produce such result. However, when the underlying crime is a misdemeanor, this reasoning does not work.
D took no direct action to further, encourage, or direct the activities of the prostitutes. He had no special interest in the activities.
There were no excessive charges, the service had a legitimate use, and there was not an unusual quantity.