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Conspiracy


Conspiracy is one of the most commonly charged federal crimes. Prosecutors often rely on it because it allows them to include evidence that might otherwise not be relevant to substantive charges. 


Conspiracy charges do not require that a conventional crime be committed. Rather, Conspiracy can be charged when two or more persons agree to accomplish an unlawful act together, and at least one of them acts in furtherance of the conspiracy. An individual may be charged with Conspiracy even if they took no direct action in furtherance of the crime, so long as they were a party to the agreement. 


There are two basic elements that the government must prove in a conspiracy case. 


  • Agreement 
  • Overt Act 


Agreement 


To be convicted of conspiracy, the government must prove that an agreement existed between two or more people to commit a crime. This agreement need not be formalized in writing. A common understanding between those involved may qualify as an agreement. The individuals must have intended to enter into the agreement. That is, if a person understands the unlawful nature of the plan and enters into the agreement with the intent to advance the unlawful object of the conspiracy, that is sufficient. 


Overt Act  


In addition to proving the existence of an agreement, proof of an overt act in furtherance of the Conspiracy is also required. Although there may be two or more people involved in the Conspiracy, it only takes a single act in furtherance of the Conspiracy by one of the members to qualify as an “overt act.” Simply talking about the plan, however, is not enough to constitute an overt act.  


Penalties  


Conspiracy charges often carry the same consequences as the underlying crime that was the object of the conspiracy. Therefore, if individuals conspire to commit a felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, the Conspiracy charge will also carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. Thus, Conspiracy is a very serious charge that can often carry significant jailtime, even for individuals with seemingly little criminal responsibility. 


The criminal justice system is a confusing labyrinth of laws, regulations, and harsh consequences. That is particularly true when considering the indiscriminate application of criminal penalties in Conspiracy cases. Mr. Norris has the experience and know-how to navigate an archaic and unforgiving court system, guiding clients through difficult times and providing thorough legal advice and analysis throughout.