The Wharton Rule

Published: 2019-01-22 03:57:28
300 words
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3 min to read
George Washington University
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Sriminal cases that involve a conspiracy

Wharton Rule originated to address criminal cases that involve a conspiracy. The Wharton Rule is named after Francis Wharton, an American lawyer who developed it. The Rule states that an agreement by two people to engage in a crime cannot be regarded as a crime of conspiracy when a crime of that nature requires two people for its execution. Two individuals can only be charged for conspiring to commit a crime it there was an additional person who was involved in the agreement to commit a crime. The statutory limitation in punishment for a crime that involves conspiracy is n+1 where n is the minimum number of actors required to commit the crime and one person whose participation is not strictly necessary for the crime to be executed, but he or she agrees to be part of the crime and goes ahead to aid it. The Wharton Rule can be used to exempt a person from charges of criminal conspiracy. Necessary parties cannot be charged with conspiracy to commit a crime in a crime that naturally requires a concert of agents. Wharton Rule can only apply to offenses that require a concert in effort in perpetrating a criminal activity. Wharton Rule suggests that there should be an examination of purposes that underlie a crime of conspiracy. Prosecutors do prove a conspiracy by establishing circumstantial evidence that proves there was an arrangement into committing an offense. Wharton Rule applies whether the crime that was planned was consummated or not. The Wharton Rule cannot be applied in cases such as bigamy and adultery (Lee, 2005). The state of New Jersey has adopted the Wharton rule as a theory of criminal liability.


Lee, G. D. (2005). Conspiracy investigations: Terrorism, drugs, and gangs. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson Prentice Hall.


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