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Policeman Gilberto Valle from New York was accused of preparing to abduct, murder, and devour a number of his associate’s women inside the famous “Cannibal Cop” case. In his “fantasy defence,”


Policeman Gilberto Valle from New York was accused of preparing to abduct, murder, and devour a number of his associate’s women inside the famous “Cannibal Cop” case. In his “fantasy defence,” Valle insisted that his feelings weren’t the result of a conspiracy agreement but rather of imaginary role-playing. His conviction and subsequent acquittal raised issues regarding thoughtcrime, free expression, and the definition of conspiracy legislation. Conspiracy belongs to the class of crimes where the actus reus of a pure speech is the offence because an agreement is the basis of the crime. The author of this article contends that even as a consequence, cases of conspiracy including the fantasy defence have unique due process and legal risks, which can be lessened by tightening the blatant conduct necessary.


Gilberto Valle faced charges. by the US to conspire to commit kidnapping[2] also violate the U.S. Code for unlawful kidnapping and abducting. That the jury will sentence Valle, the laws needed to evidence on the far side an inexpensive doubt that Valle deliberately agreed to commit a seizure, that he meant that the seizure truly occur, which he or one of his accomplices carried out a clear act that furthered the conspiracy.[3] So, altogether 16 hours of thought, the judge condemned Gilberto Valle to plan to engage in abduction.[4]  “However, in a very stunning flip of events, judge Gardephe granted a judgment of final decision simply over a year later, in Gregorian calendar month 2014, on the premise of lean proof.”[5] He expressed his views in his writing, “Despite the extremely worrying nature of Valle’s deviant and depraved sexual interests, his chats and emails concerning these interests aren’t sufficient-standing alone-to decipher the weather of conspiracy to commit seizure. There must be evidence that Valle intended to act on these interests with an alleged co-conspirator.”[6] This panel next analyzed that “unique circumstances” of a conspiracy “alleged to own taken place virtually completely on Internet, and in a very context within which … the litigant engaged in uncounted fantasy role-play conversations.” The magistrate decided that any crucial judge wouldn’t’ve accused so the prosecution showed further than a possible suspicion that Valle went into real arrangements and also just sufficient motive to abduct the ladies present in his messages. This was after carefully documenting and examining the material. This judgement has been appealed by the government.


Valle’s talks might not have been as entirely made up as a violent scene from the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, and the medium’s dynamic and linguistic features make it more challenging to distinguish imagination from malicious intent. But it is crucial to follow this navigating in a sophisticated and thoughtful approach in order to successfully negotiate the tricky line between criminality and fantasy. An unplanned, simply efficient method of monitoring sexual content on the Internet hurts actual people who’ve already harmed no one and poses the danger of dampening relationships amongst other Web users who could truly gain from it. In Gilberto Valle’s case, a mere false act demand may have prevented the judge from reaching a legally weak conviction. Since no kidnappings occurred and none real-world, strong things to performing a snatch were only taken, the court stated in rejecting the conviction that this was crucial in determining whether or not the government had verified Valle’s criminal intent—his explicit purpose to snatch a lady. It seems improbable that the jury would have legitimately condemned Valle if it had believed conspiracy to need a stronger overt act similar to the formulations described above.


Since the advent of the Internet, there have been several cases where the respondents have argued that this virtual behaviour was simply an expression of their private thoughts that are not illegal conduct. “To begin with, the FBI’s investigation led not just to Valle’s arrest, as well as the arrest of one of his alleged co-conspirators, Michael Van Hise, and 2 other people who were in similar communications.” Many undeveloped sex-related crimes have also been charged under the fantasy defence.[7] Similar defences have also been used in situations where there is little to no connection to illicit mode. In United States v. Myers,[8] the respondent contended that his willingness to take a bribe was only a verbal one in order to have his bribery conviction overturned “playacting[9]. In this scenario that poses problems similar were built into the fantasy defence, Elonis v. United States, the Supreme Court recently granted writ. Anthony Douglas Elonis was found guilty to give statements against still another individual breaking 18 U.S.C. 875(c), in part because “lyrics” on Facebook, he published a message discussing murdering his strangled wife.[10] Elonis put on the motion this the latest modification has the laws to demonstrate that he ostensibly posed a problem, not only this a mind person would be conscious of it in itself, and this his “lyrics” were, therefore, private expression. “The Third Circuit disagreed, and held this conviction.”


“The basis of criminal conspiracy is an agreement to achieve-rather than proximity to the achieving-an unlawful goal.”[11] It’s based on only the premise that ” unifying all strength, skills, and finances of the many behind a malicious aim is certainly greater risky and challenging to police than that of the effort of a single offender.”[12] In those other words, a person may be charged with conspiracy until he or she has even begun to carry out the offence for which they have conspired.[13] The motto to conspire-“adorable infant of the contemporary prosecutor,”[14] in recent decades, as Judge Learned Hand put it, only resulted in its tremendous extension.[15] Conspiracy serves two key purposes that do it “an increasingly important weapon in the prosecutor’s arsenal.”[16] Firstly, conspiracy functions to a precursory offence which permits laws enticement to prevent harms caused by illegal action before they happen.[17] Contrarily, considering these objections, conspiracy is frequently portrayed as involving not just one, but two acts.[18] First, the criminal must consciously trust others to carry out an illegal aim.[19] Secondly, the accused needs to clearly behave in accordance with the contract.[20] Additionally for this stature of thought necessary for every violation, the respondent should do the only desire which the conspiracy’s article to carried out. This is known as double planning.”[21]


Gilberto Valle has freedom of speech, based on the Constitution and fundamental rules of the law, but considering the lax fault conditions of conspiracy law and the potentially incendiary tone of his remark, it is possible that the jury will penalize him for his imaginative expression. Due to this contradiction, it appears that further controls are required to ensure that persons accused of conspiring aren’t also condemned for the socially inappropriate thought content of their communication. This section first utilises Valle’s case to show why conspiracy law needs to be changed to save those who employ a fantasy defence from only laws and constitutional rights breaches. Secondly, this section examines some potential safeguards and suggests that the best course of action is to overturn Shabani and make the overt-act demand stronger.


Just a person who has the most abhorrent dreams imaginable cannot be convicted if the jury has even the slightest hint of doubt that he committed the offences alleged. Conspiracy law must be implemented in accordance with current customs in order to prevent impinging on an accused’s constitutional freedom to express his dreams and thoughts, as this is the fundamental modification and criminal law’s wrongdoing. Even though it seems that the Supreme Court is unwilling to tighten the requirements for proving conspiracy, courts need to come up with a clear definition of what constitutes an overt act in order to attain this purpose.

Author(s) Name: Aadrika Malhotra (Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University)


[1] United States v. Valle, 807 F.3d 508. (1735)

[2] Crimes and Criminal Procedure,18 U.S.C. § 1201(c) (2012)  

[3] Valle, supra note 1.

[4] Benjamin Weiser, Ugly Thoughts’ Defense Fails; Officer Guilty in Cannibal Plot, N.Y. Times, Mar. 12, 2013.

[5] United States v. Valle, 301 F.R.D. 53, 115 (2014).

[6] Id.

[7] Donald S. Yamagami, Prosecuting Cyber-Pedophiles: How Can Intent Be Shown in a Virtual World in Light of the Fantasy Defense, 41 SANTA CLARA L. REV. 547, 549 (2001).

[8] United States v. Myers, 692 F.2d 823 (1982).

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Abraham S. Goldstein, Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, 68 YALE L. J. 405, 405 (1959).

[12] Krulewitch v. United States 336 U.S. 440. (1948)

[13] Developments in the Law-Criminal Conspiracy, 72 HARV.. L. REV. 920, 924 (1959).

[14] Harrison v. United States, 392 U.S. 219 (1968).

[15] Paul Marcus, Criminal Conspiracy Law: Time to Turn Back from an Ever Expanding, Ever More Troubling Area, 1 WM. & Mary BILL RT. J. 1, 8 (1992).

[16] Developments in the Law, supra note 14.

[17] United States v. Feola, 420 U.S., 671, 95 (1975).

[18] United States v. Shabani, 513 U.S. 10 (1994).

[19] Fannelli v. United States, 420 U.S. 770 (1975).

[20] Whitfield v. United States, 543 U.S. 209 (2005).

[21] United States v. Rodriguez-Velez, 597 F.3d 32 (2010).