Committing a Crime That Involves a Conspiracy
A criminal conspiracy is when two or more people agree to commit a crime at some point in the future. In some countries, an obvious act of conspiracy or planning must take place for there to be a crime of conspiracy.
If any laws are broken in the pre-planning of the actual crime, participants may also be charged with conspiracy to commit a crime and the related crimes.
Conspiracy crime can be challenging for investigators to prosecute as it entails charging someone with something they haven’t yet done. The U.S. government has an entire section of code detailing laws regarding terrorism and conspiracy crimes, which was born out of necessity surround 911 and other terrorist acts, which included conspiracy.
What Equals a Conspiracy
The “agreement” between parties does not need to be an actual spoken agreement of conspiracy. Merely joining in planning meetings or committing actions that move the plan forward is enough to legally implicate you in being part of a conspiracy.
For this type of offense, the component of “intent” is very important. If you are aware of a person who says they are going to commit a crime, or you spend time with someone who is guilty of conspiracy, you are not automatically liable for being in a conspiracy with them. You must have intent and agree on the outcome of the crime being planned.
Under the criminal code that protects citizens against a conspiracy of criminal acts, there are a few exceptions that exonerate someone being in a conspiracy with those committing the crime. They are as follows:
- The intended victim of the crime being planned.
- The spouse or partner of those planning the crime.
- An underage person who cannot be held legally liable.
The penalties for conspiracy to commit a crime are very severe and could add up if the crime is actually committed. First, they will be hit with the conspiracy offense and then more charges for the actual crime itself. Penalties can include very steep fines and many years in federal prison.