Stewie Griffin’s  first trick or treating” experience takes a sinister turn in the “Halloween on Spooner Street” episode of  Family Guy, which aired Sunday November 7, 2010 at 9/8c.  When Stewie (voice, Seth MacFarlane) ventures out of the house escorted by Brian (voice, Seth MacFarlane), the night looks promising. Stewie is pleased with his “vampire” duck costume, and becomes even more excited as his pillow case is filled with candy.

However, Brian’s momentary lapse changes the course of the evening. Brian believes he sees his nemesis, the dog that lives in the Griffins’ patio door (actually his reflection), in the hubcap of a parked car. He briefly leaves Stewie unattended to place a note on the car to alert the owner to the presence of the “jerk” dog.  During Brian’s absence, Stewie is confronted by 3 older bullies who steal his Halloween candy. When Brian attempts to get Stewie’s candy back from the boys, they spray-paint him pink. Thoroughly angered and humiliated, Brian and Stewie conspire to kill the 3 troublemakers.

In furtherance of their plot, Stewie and Brian somehow obtain a rocket launcher and sneak over to the yard where the boys are enjoying their spoils. Brian gives Stewie a boost up onto a nearby roof where he makes his stand, yelling at the boys and pointing the rocket launcher at them menacingly. One of the boys throws a rock at Stewie, causing him to lose his balance and tumble off the roof. As he hits the ground, the rocket launcher goes off accidentally. Although the rocket misses the 3 boys, it does connect with Godzilla far off in the distance, finally liberating the world from his reign of terror. 

A criminal conspiracy “exists when two or more people agree to commit almost any unlawful act, then take some action toward its completion. The action taken need not itself be a crime, but it must indicate that those involved in the conspiracy knew of the plan and intended to break the law. One person may be charged with and convicted of both conspiracy and the underlying crime based on the same circumstances.”

Although the crime was thwarted, the conspiracy is complete. The two acts of getting the rocket launcher and going to the boys’ hideout would easily satisfy the requirement of  “some action taken toward completion of the crime.” In addition, when Stewie progressed past mere preparation to the initial steps of crime commission, this would constitute criminal attempt, which is defined as “the crime of having the intent to commit and taking action in an effort to commit a crime that fails or is prevented. There is no settled answer to how close to completing a crime a person must be to be guilty of attempt, but attempt must generally consist of more than preparation.”

Because the Griffins live in Rhode Island, the criminal statutes of that state would control. RI ST § 11-1-6 (1956) on conspiracy states:

Except as otherwise provided by law, every person who shall conspire with another to commit an offense punishable under the laws of this state shall be subject to the same fine and imprisonment as pertain to the offense which the person shall have conspired to commit, provided that imprisonment for the conspiracy shall not exceed ten (10) years.

 In addition, RI ST 12-17-14 on attempt states:

Whenever any person is tried upon an indictment, information, or complaint and the court or jury, as the case may be, shall not be satisfied that he or she is guilty of the whole offense, but shall be satisfied that he or she is guilty of so much of the offense as shall substantially amount to an offense of a lower nature, or that the defendant did not complete the offense charged, but that he or she was guilty only of an attempt to commit the same offense, the court or jury may find him or her guilty of the lower offense or guilty of an attempt to commit the offense, as the case may be, and the court shall proceed to sentence the person for the offense of which he or she shall be so found guilty, notwithstanding that the court had not otherwise jurisdiction of the offense.

Further, the U.S. Supreme Court in Snell v. United States, held that a defendant may be charged with and convicted for both the crimes of conspiracy and attempt (450 U.S. 957 (1981)). For a decision b the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that reaches the same decision, click here. Because both courts hold that the act of one conspirator is the act of all, Brian would be held liable for even those acts committed by Stewie to commit the actual crime. Also, these holdings indicate that Stewie and Brian can be charged with and convicted for both conspiracy and attempt. Finally, according to Rhode Island state law, the two cohorts may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 10 years for conspiracy to commit murder and an additional sentence for the attempted murder itself. This is quite a high price to pay for a pillow case full of Halloween candy. Of course, while Stewie and Brian could potentially be sent “up the river” for conspiracy in the Family Guy universe, no such conspiracy would be recognized in the real world. After all, a baby cannot conspire with a dog to commit a crime!

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