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Any agreement between two parties to commit a crime at a future time is considered conspiracy. If you were arrested for conspiracy, it is important that you understand that you could face some serious potential penalties if convicted. Conspiring to commit a crime is sometimes considered an organized crime, which carries lengthy prison sentences.
Conspiracy and racketeering can sometimes be charged in conjunction and are both illegal in the United States. In October of 1970, the United States passed a law known as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act 18 U.S.C. §§1961-1968 that allows law enforcement to arrest and charge individuals with racketeering if they commit any 2 of 35 crimes over a 10-year period. Some crimes that can be a sign of RICO and result in serious criminal charges include:
A conspiracy is an agreement to commit a crime rather than a standalone crime. Instead of being charged with conspiracy, defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit (insert crime). Therefore, the consequences of a conspiracy case are generally the consequences of the underlying crime. For example, if the charge was conspiracy to commit murder, the consequence might be life in prison. If the charge was conspiracy to commit robbery, the consequence might be the number of years in prison for a robbery conviction.
In some cases, a judge might feel that a conspiracy is worse than just doing the crime alone. This is because a conspiracy generally requires more planning and premeditation, whereas another crime might be a poor impulse decision. In this type of situation, the judge might be more inclined to impose the maximum sentence in a conspiracy case when they might otherwise impose a more lenient sentence.
A conspiracy requires more than just talking about a crime. It requires an act towards committing the crime. This is known as an overt act.
The overt act itself does not have to be a crime. For example, if two people discuss robbing a bank, they haven’t committed a crime yet. If one of them later goes to rob a bank and the other stays home, only the person who actually robbed the bank gets charged. However, if after they talk, they go to a store and buy ski masks to wear during the robbery, that’s an overt act. Even if the person who paid for the masks stays home while the other robs the bank, both have committed conspiracy to commit bank robbery.
Conspiracy charges can get dropped just like any other criminal charge. This might happen where the prosecution can’t prove the case or the police violated someone’s rights and key evidence has to be excluded.
In a conspiracy case, lesser players in the crime might try to have their charges dropped. For example, they might argue that they weren’t around when an overt act was committed or that they withdrew from the conspiracy before the crime occurred.
In addition, a conspiracy charge requires multiple people. If two people were charged with a conspiracy and the judge rules that one wasn’t part of the conspiracy when the other committed a crime, neither can be charged with conspiracy. The person who committed the crime in that situation could only be charged with that crime.
Regardless of the degree charged the goals remains the same. We will help you avoid conviction for the criminal charge, but perhaps more importantly, keep you out of jail.