How to prove criminal conspiracy

It bears stressing that conspiracy requires the same degree of proof required to establish the crime beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, mere presence at the scene of the crime at the time of its commission without proof of cooperation or agreement to cooperate is not enough to constitute one a party to a conspiracy.[1] In this regard, the Supreme Court's ruling in Bahilidad v. People[2] is instructive.

There is conspiracy when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. Conspiracy is not presumed. Like the physical acts constituting the crime itself, the elements of conspiracy must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. While conspiracy need not be established by direct evidence, for it may be inferred from the conduct of the accused before, during and after the commission of the crime, all taken together, however, the evidence must be strong enough to show the community of criminal design.[2][3]

For conspiracy to exist, it is essential that there must be a conscious design to commit an offense. Conspiracy is the product of intentionality on the part of the cohorts.[2][3]It is necessary that a conspirator should have performed some overt act as a direct or indirect contribution to the execution of the crime committed. The overt act may consist of active participation in the actual commission of the crime itself, or it may consist of moral assistance to his co-conspirators by being present at the commission of the crime or by exerting moral ascendancy over the other co-conspirators. Hence, the mere presence of an accused at the discussion of a conspiracy, even approval of it, without any active participation in the same, is not enough for purposes of conviction.[2][3]

[1] People v. De Chavez, G.R. No. 188105, April 23, 2010, 619 SCRA 464, 476-477.

[2] G.R. No. 185195, March 17, 2010, 615 SCRA 597.

[3] Rimando v. People, G.R. No. 229701, November 29, 2017.