In this podcast, Timothy O'Toole discusses Ocasio v. U.S., in which Ocasio challenges his conviction under the Hobbs Act for conspiracy to commit extortion. The Supreme Court heard oral argument related to whether a conspiracy to commit extortion requires the conspirators to agree to obtain property from someone outside the conspiracy. O'Toole addresses three issues that are at the heart of the case, including the federal charges that applied to state law conduct, the concerns that can arise for a defendant under the conspiracy statute and the "overcriminalization" of Ocasio's crimes, which O'Toole refers to as a "more systemic problem in the criminal justice system."
Overcriminalization is an issue that has been driving the court in various areas of criminal law in past few years, O'Toole said. "It's a phenomenon that has been talked about on Capitol Hill, it's been talked about in the courts," and it gives "prosecutors substantial power because the more crimes that you can charge, the higher sentence the defendant faces. And the higher sentence a defendant faces, the better the chances the defendant is going to plead guilty to something that either they didn’t do or that a jury may not convict them of."