10 January 2013

SCOTUS in Plain English: Smith v. United States

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe Supreme Court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case at SCOTUblog below. For similar posts, click here.

Smith v. United States

Smith decided to participate in an illegal drug business and was charged with several counts of conspiracy (defined generally as an agreement between two people to commit a crime). In defense, Smith claimed that he had withdrawn from the conspiracy. The lower court told the jury that once the government proved Smith was part of the conspiracy, the burden then shifted to Smith to prove that he had withdrawn from the conspiracy. The Supreme Court agreed, and ruled that the burden to prove withdrawal is on the defendant (Smith).
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