Defending Federal Conspiracy Charges
Definition of Conspiracy
Under Title 18 § 371 of the U.S. Code, conspiracy is an agreement made by two or more persons to commit any criminal offense. As a federal crime, this agreement can be made to either (1) commit an offense against the United States or (2) to defraud any federal agency. Conspiracy is one of the more interesting criminal offenses because it makes the agreement to commit a crime a crime in and of itself. This means that a person who agrees to commit a crime does not have to actually complete the offense in order to violate the law and face allegations.
The Elements of Conspiracy Allegations
Conspiracy is a charge favored heavily by many prosecutors, and often when evidence is minimal. In fact, there is rarely a case in which federal prosecutors do not include a conspiracy charge in conjunction with other charges in an indictment.
Conspiracy Charges Often Have Fewer Requirements
Conspiracy is often easier for the government to prove than the underlying charge or criminal act itself. This is because there are typically fewer legal elements to prove. In some cases, an additional requirement may exist – an overt act taken in furtherance of a crime. However, the overt act does not have to be a criminal act. For example, it is legal to purchase and own a firearm – provided that one meets requirements. If the firearm was purchased as part of an agreement to commit a murder, however, then purchasing a firearm can be considered an overt act that furthers the objective of a conspiracy. No murder needs to take place in order for conspiracy to be charged.
When can you be charged with conspiracy?
Conspiracy is an umbrella charge that may involve agreements to commit many different types of crimes. Generally, it is illegal to conspire to violate state or federal law, and Texas does have its own criminal conspiracy statute – Texas Penal Code § 15.02. At the federal level, conspiracy cases are most commonly associated with federal drug crimes and white collar crimes in which many parties contribute to or are involved in furthering criminal activity.
At the state level, convicted individuals may face charges one category lower than the most serious felony that is the object of the conspiracy. This means that if one were to be convicted of conspiracy of robbery – a second-degree felony – they would face third-degree felony charges and penalties.
As a federal crime, conspiracy is punishable by fines and up to five years in prison. If the object of the conspiracy is a misdemeanor, penalties for conspiracy will not exceed the maximum punishment for that crime. In some situations, federal drug crime conspiracy charges carry the same penalties as the underlying charge.
A Proven Houston Criminal Defense Firm on Your Side
The Law Offices of Billy Skinner is a firm that puts clients first. If you or your loved one has been charged with conspiracy, are currently under federal investigation, or believe that you may soon face allegations, do not delay in learning more about your rights and how our firm can help during a no obligation consultation. Our legal team is available 24/7.
Call (713) 600-7777 or complete a case evaluation form today.