Conspiracy cases are defined as cases in which two or more persons agree to commit a crime or to perpetrate an illegal act.
The end may be legal, but the planned means are illegal. For example, two persons making a plan to steal bread from a supermarket (illegal) to donate to a local food bank (legal) would be guilty of conspiracy. While intent is key in any federal conspiracy case, only "general intent" to violate the law is necessary; proof of the defendants' specific intent to violate the law is not needed, only an agreement to engage in an illegal act.
U.S.C. Title 18, Chapter 19 prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States, conspiracies to impede or injure an officer, and conspiracies to commit violent crimes. However, conspiracy is prohibited in several other federal statutes. It is important to note that an actual crime is not necessary to prosecute a conspiracy case – only the stated intent to break the law. This means that even if the ultimate crime was not committed, the conspirators can be prosecuted under federal law. However, most states have laws that prevent conspiracy charges to be pressed if no actions were taken to actually carry out the conspiracy. This prevents people from effectively being prosecuted for having thoughts of breaking the law. While this caveat does prevent some conspiracy cases from going to court, it does not reduce the severity of a conspiracy claim. In many cases, conspiracy to commit a crime such as murder is regarded as a crime as severe as murder itself.
Conspiracy crimes can include conspiracy to engage in criminal activity such as money laundering, conspiracy to violate federal laws, or conspiracy to manufacture drugs or weapons. The federal maximum penalty for conspiracy is five years in prison; however, this may be compounded by other state and federal violations. Depending on the nature of the conspiracy, it may be prosecuted by different entities including the FBI, Department of Justice, or state and local law agencies.
Conspiracy charges are extremely serious and, in many cases, may result in a person facing the same penalties for the underlying crime itself - even if he/she did not actually carry out the crime. Additionally, conspiracy may be charged as a federal crime, which may result in harsher penalties and a more aggressive investigation and prosecution by federal law enforcement agencies.
Austin Conspiracy Defense: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
Austin Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson may be able to help if you have been accused of or charged with conspiracy. From his office in Austin, Texas, attorney Johnson handles cases throughout all of the greater Texas area. His experience in State and Federal Court has given Attorney Johnson the ability to provide aggressive and effective defense representation to his clients.