Federal prosecutors charge “Conspiracy” in one form or another more than virtually any other Federal offense. Conspiracy is what is known in the legal world as an “inchoate” crime – or a crime committed in the preparation of another crime. The other crime does not even have to be committed. The crime of Conspiracy is a simple one; however, the law and strategy behind it can be extremely complex. Essentially, Conspiracy is an agreement between two or more individuals to commit some Federal offense. There are actually several Federal Conspiracy charges. Some attempt to criminalize an agreement to commit any Federal crime. Others relate to specific Federal charges, such as Wire Fraud, Mail Fraud and Health Care Fraud. In these cases, Federal prosecutors charge Conspiracy because they believe they can get additional facts, information and inferences into evidence to be used against those they have charged when such information would not otherwise have been admissible. Quite literally, many Conspiracy charges allow prosecutors to claim that a person is responsible for actions of others and even for crimes that were never actually committed. Make no mistake. Conspiracy is one of the most powerful prosecutorial tools Assistant United States Attorneys have at their disposal.
- Wire Fraud: Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343
- Mail Fraud: Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341
- Health Care Fraud: Title 18, United States Code, Section 1347
- Bank Fraud: Title 18, United States Code, Section 1344
- Security Fraud: Title 18, United States Code, Section 1348
- Federal White Collar Crimes
No matter the form, the crime of Conspiracy is essentially the agreement between two or more people to commit another Federal crime.Conspiracy: Understanding the Criminal Elements
The first element of Conspiracy is that the Conspiracy, or agreement to commit another Federal crime existed. Second, you, as a defendant, knowingly became a member of the Conspiracy with the intent to further the Conspiracy. In some cases, there is an additional element that an overt act was committed by at least one conspirator in furtherance of the Conspiracy.Conspiracy: Other Critical Factors
A Conspiracy may be established even if its purpose was not accomplished. This means, even if you fail in carrying out your criminal plan, a Conspiracy can exist as a criminal offense on its own. Similarly, the overt act that prosecutors prove you or a co-conspirator took part in need not be a criminal act and can in fact be a legal one.
Furthering the theme that your actions by themself need not be criminal or you were unsuccessful in reaching your criminal goal, to be a member of the Conspiracy, you need not join at the beginning or know all the other members or the means by which its purpose was to be accomplished. The government must only prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were aware of the common purpose and was a willing participant.Conspiracy: Mere Presence or Association
While each case is unique and requires a thorough examination by one’s own Federal criminal lawyer, a defendant’s presence at the scene of a crime and knowledge that a crime is being committed is not alone sufficient to establish the defendant’s guilt. A defendant’s association with conspirators is not by itself sufficient to prove his/her participation or membership in a ConspiracyThe Federal Court Process from Arrest to Potential Sentence Understanding the Federal Arrest Process: The Importance of Knowledgeable Counsel
If a defendant performed acts that advanced a criminal activity but had no knowledge that a crime was being committed or was about to be committed, those acts alone are not sufficient to establish the defendant’s guilt.Conspiracy: Withdrawal & Cleaning Your Hands
Even if an individual enters into a Conspiracy, he can withdraw from it and limit his criminal responsibility. Since a Conspiracy can be formed before the substantive crime is committed, a person may not be held responsible for the conduct of another, if, before the commission of an offense, he effectively ends his effort to promote or facilitate the commission of the offense by:
- wholly depriving his prior efforts of effectiveness in the commission of the crime, or
- giving timely warning to the proper law enforcement authorities, or
- doing an affirmative act that is inconsistent with the object of the Conspiracy and is done in such a way that the co-conspirators are reasonably likely to know about it before they carry through with further acts of the Conspiracy, or
- making proper effort to prevent the commission of the crime.
Working with your own Federal criminal defense attorney is not just essential in any Federal criminal case, but critically important in a Conspiracy case due to the complexity of these crimes. Simply, punishment depends on which Federal statute is charged. For example, under Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, the maximum sentence is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Under other Conspiracy charges such as Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1349 (which relates to Conspiracy to commit Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, Bank Fraud, Health Care Fraud or Security Fraud), the punishment is the same as for the underlying offense – usually 10 or 20 years in prison.
- Federal Law Enforcement: From the FBI to the US Attorney & Their Respective Roles
- From Witness to Target: Potential Exposure & Consequences of a Federal Investigation
- Understanding Federal Subpoenas: How the Government Can Force You to Appear
- Federal Arrest Warrant: What it Means & Your Next Steps
Whether Special Agents with FBI, Secret Service or any Federal Agency have executed a search warrant, reached out to you in some capacity or taken you into custody through an arrest, it is never to early to analyze the Conspiracy crime and related offense you may face. Simply, the consequences of not doing so can result in years in prison along with enormous financial penalties. Take the initiative in your own defense. Educate yourself on the law and contact Saland Law so that experience, advocacy and knowledge can work for you.
Call the Federal criminal lawyers and former prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.