Federal Crimes Form A TO Z — C Is For Conspiracy

There are many conspiracy statutes in the federal penal code. An example of one is 18 U.S.C. §371 that states that if two or more persons conspire to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more such persons do and act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be guilty of conspiracy.

Not all conspiracy statutes require that an overt act take place though. When the statute does not require an overt act for there to be a conspiracy, the overt act may be important evidence of the criminal conspiracy though. The overt act also does not have to be an element of the underlying substantive crime, and it does not even need to be a crime in its own right. It can be any act that furthers the aims of the conspiracy.

Drug trafficking, terrorist, and racketeering conspiracies are all punishable with the same penalty as the underlying substantive offense. All of these conspiracies are subject fines not exceeding $250,000.00 for individuals and $500,000.00 for organizations, and can serve as the basis for restitution and forfeiture orders. Conspiracies under 18 U.S.C. 371 are punishable by a fine and imprisonment not to exceed five years. If the offense that is the object of the conspiracy is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for that misdemeanor.

The crime of conspiracy is complete upon the agreement to undertake the crime, though some conspiracy statutes like 18 U.S.C. §371 require some overt act be undertaken in furtherance of the scheme. A person’s liability for conspiracy continues until the conspiracy ends, or until the person withdraws from the conspiracy. A person who is not actively participating in the conspiracy has not necessarily withdrawn from the conspiracy, and can still be found guilty of conspiracy as long as the conspiracy continues. A person who claims he or she has withdrawn from the conspiracy has to have either taken some action that makes it clear to the other conspirators that he or she is no longer participating in the conspiracy, or disclosed the conspiracy to the police. Withdrawing from the conspiracy terminates the defendant’s liability for acts that occur in furtherance of the conspiracy after he or she withdraws, but the person can still be found guilty of conspiracy.

Not only can a person be charged with conspiracy, he or she can be charged with any completed substantive offense that is the object of the plot, and any other foreseeable crime which one of the conspirators commits in furtherance of the scheme. A good example of this is if a person is killed in furtherance of the conspiracy, then all of the conspirators could be charged with murder.

The statute of limitations on conspiracy crimes does not begin to run until the last overt act of the conspiracy has been completed. To be found guilty of conspiracy, the underlying offense does not even need to have been committed.

Conspiracy crimes are very serious charges in federal court. You need an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to fight for you, and to ensure that your rights are protected. The Arlington federal criminal defense attorneys of the Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC will fight to ensure that your rights are protected during this trying time. We will use our years of experience and knowledge to make sure that the police followed all legal procedures when preparing and filing the charges against you. We will investigate fully the allegations made against you. If working together and examining the evidence, you determine that it is in your best interest to have a jury hear your case, we will defend you aggressively and make sure that the jury hears your side of the story. If we determine together that it is in your best interest to accept a plea offer from the district attorney, we will work hard to ensure that you receive the best deal possible. Victory in a federal criminal defense case can mean many different things, and the Arlington federal criminal defense attorneys of the Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC are committed to pursuing the best course of action for your situation. If you find yourself being charged with a conspiracy crime in federal court, please call the federal criminal defense attorneys of the Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC at 817–841–9906.