California Penal Code Section 182

Penal Code section 182 provides that it is criminal to conspire with another "to cheat and defraud any person of any property, by any means which are in themselves criminal, or to obtain money or property by false pretenses or by false promises with fraudulent intent not to perform those promises." ( 182, subd. (a)(4).) In People v. Cook (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 910, the appellate court explained, "Under Penal Code section 182, the jury must determine which felony the defendants conspired to commit, and it cannot make that determination unless it is instructed on the elements of the target offense charged as well as the elements of any lesser included target offense which the jury could reasonably find to be the object of the conspiracy. " (Id. at p. 918.) Therefore, the trial court has a sua sponte obligation to instruct on the elements of the target offense and any lesser included target offenses. (Ibid.) In People v. Horn (1974) 12 Cal.3d 290, the Court held that "Section 182 clearly makes the punishment for conspiracy turn on the nature and degree of the conspired offense. Thus even if a defendant could be convicted of conspiracy in the abstract, he could not be punished until the trier of fact ascertained the criminal object of the conspiracy. To determine whether the object of defendants' conspiracy in the present case was the commission of a first degree murder, the trier of fact obviously would need to know the elements of that offense." (Horn, supra, 12 Cal.3d at pp. 297-298.)