Criminal Law, Pages 490–495

State v. Pacheco

Supreme Court of Washington, 1994


Defendant Pacheco worked for Dillon's private investigation firm and bragged to him about his illegal activities. Dillon learned that Pacheco was a deputy sheriff and contacted the FBI. The FBI and the sheriff's office had Dillon tell Pacheco to meet him to discuss a deal. Dillon told Pacheco he had ties to the Mafia and offered to pay him $500 for protecting him during a cocaine deal. Pacheco agreed. Dillon undertook the purported deal with an undercover agent and paid Pacheco $500.

Procedural History:

Pacheco was convicted of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.

Defendant's Argument:

The common law requires a bilateral agreement. Since Dillon was acting as an undercover police agent, he did not agree, only Pacheco did.


Was Pacheco guilty of conspiracy when Dillon did not actually agree to commit a crime?


  • LexisNexis IconGoogle Scholar LogoPage 491, Bottom
    Rev. Code Wash. § 9A.28.040

    A person is guilty of criminal conspiracy when, with intent that conduct constituting a crime be performed, he agrees with one or more persons to engage in or cause the performance of such conduct, and any one of them takes a substantial step in pursuance of such agreement.

  • LexisNexis IconWestLaw LogoGoogle Scholar LogoPage 492, Top

    Black's Law Dictionary defines agreement as "[a] meeting of two or more minds; a coming together in opinion or determination; the coming together in accord of two minds on a given proposition".


By using the word "agreement," the legislature intended to retain the common law requirement of a bilateral agreement. Therefore, since Dillon did not actually intend to sell drugs, there was no meeting of the minds and therefore no conspiracy.


No, Pacheco was not guilty of conspiracy. Reversed.

Dissenting Opinion:

Durham: While the federal conspiracy statute requires bilateral conspiracy, its language is explicit in requiring this. In contrast, the modern trend is exemplified by the Model Penal Code, with allows unilateral conspiracy. The Washington statute tracks the Model Penal Code language, rather than the federal conspiracy statue. The statute was specifically revised to the Model Penal Code language from language that required bilateral conspiracy. This shows that the legislate intended to change it. The potential abuse of unilateral conspiracy is restricted both by statute and by the entrapment defense.