Helsinki Committee for Human Rights









Attendant circumstance

In law, attendant circumstances (sometimes external circumstances) are the facts surrounding an event.

But, according to United States v. Johnson, 42 F.3d 1312, 1319 (10th Cir. 1994) (citing United States v. Shabani, 513 U.S. 10 (1994)) drug conspiracies under 21 U.S.C. 846 are unique because the prosecution need not prove an overt act. Instead, the government must "prove that the defendant knew at least the essential objectives of the conspiracy and knowingly and voluntarily became a part of it." Consequently, withdrawal before an overt act has been committed cannot relieve a defendant of criminal responsibility. The policies that justify drug enforcement laws require this exception so that anyone who deliberately acquires knowledge of drug-related activities and thereby represents a social danger, may be convicted.

Any annoying, disturbing, or alarming act or condition exceeding the bounds of social toleration normal for the time and place in question which occurs in a public place or which occurs in, affects persons in, or is likely to affect persons in a place to which the public or a substantial group has access. The places covered by this definition shall include, but not be limited to, highways, transport facilities, schools, prisons, apartment houses, places of business or amusement, or any neighborhood.

In order for a person to be found guilty of this crime, the evidence must prove that the defendant uttered a profanity (the act) in a public place (the contextual attendant circumstance) with the intention of provoking a violent reaction (the mental element demonstrating the right type of culpability) and thereby causes a breach of the peace (the result prohibited by law). There are no attendant circumstances that might invoke an excuse or other general defence. Indeed, the victim in this instance being a police officer would probably be considered an aggravating circumstance and increase the penalty for the crime. (When verification of an attendant circumstance decreases the penalty, it is known as a mitigating or extenuating circumstance.)

The elements of a crime may also require proof of attendant circumstances that bring the conduct within time for the purposes of any statute of limitation or before an appropriate venue. Such circumstances are completely independent from the actus reus or mens rea elements. In the federal system, for example, a crime may require proof of jurisdictional facts, which are not defined in the statute creating the offense. See generally LaFave & Scott at 273.3. Thus, the Sixth Amendment calls for trial "by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed." Within the federal court system, Rule 18 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure specifies which federal court may hear a particular criminal case:

Unless a statute or these rules permit otherwise, the government must prosecute an offense in a district where the offense was committed. The court must set the place of trial within the district with due regard for the convenience of the defendant and the witnesses, and the prompt administration of justice.

The attendant circumstance of a transborder exercise is not referred to in the definition, but is a critical factual circumstance which will determine whether the accused can be tried as charged. The case was held more properly within the Missouri jurisdiction. This jurisdictional problem would not arise in relation to conspiracy charges.















November 2, 2011

10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Please join the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe for a hearing that explores the nexus between Transnational Organized Crime and Human Trafficking.

Organized Crime has evolved to meet the challenges of globalization and modern technology. In this evolution major international criminal organizations and smaller highly specialized groups of criminal entrepreneurs have found new ways to expand their operations and exploit human beings into slavery. To meet these challenges new national and international strategies have been placed into action, but their results remain to be seen. This continues the Helsinki Commission’s hearing series on new fronts in human trafficking. This hearing will focus on: (1) the evolving nature of Transnational Organized Crime, (2) the role of major international organized crime groups and smaller organized criminal syndicates in human trafficking, (3) identified trends, and (4) strategies to combat these organizations and prevent the trafficking of human beings.
















Copyright * Helsinki Committee for Human Rights 2011