A conspiracy charge requires the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an agreement existed between two or more persons to achieve a common goal, that the purpose of the agreement was unlawful, that the persons knowingly and willingly participated, and that at least one person acted on that agreement. The law does not require that the agreement be formal or express, or that it be achieved in its entirety. The agreement can be verified by the government through direct or circumstantial evidence. It is only necessary that one person has acted according to the agreement.

Undercover government agents or informants are not considered persons for the purpose of establishing that a conspiracy existed between a single government agent and the accused person. Also, the law does not require that the other person in the conspiracy be identified or charged. The government need only provide evidence that infers that a conspiracy existed between the accused person and another person. A conspiracy can exist between more than two people, even if one of the people does not know about the participation or existence of the third person.

Corporations can also face conspiracy charges if an employee or agent of the corporation conspired to commit a crime on their behalf. The deadline for the government to file a conspiracy charge begins to run when the last overt act has been committed by one of the persons in the conspiracy. There is a five-year limitation under the general conspiracy statute, but the limitation time may change depending on the specific conspiracy charged. A person’s liability in a conspiracy begins when the agreement is carried out and ends when the objective of the agreement is achieved or when the agreement is abandoned. A person’s involvement in a conspiracy may also be continuous and does not necessarily create separate conspiracies.

There are many conspiracy statutes that the government can refer to to charge a person, such as drug trafficking, firearms trafficking, and human trafficking, among others. A person charged with a conspiracy charge may also be charged with a substantive crime, such as drug possession, possession of a firearm, illegal alien smuggling, wire fraud, and many other crimes.
The penalty for conspiring charges is usually the same as the underlying crime committed. However, there are many factors that determine a person’s sentencing guideline range, such as the type of crime, whether a weapon was involved, the person’s criminal history, and relevant conduct. Relevant conduct includes acts of the accused person and others involved who acted in support of the criminal activity, acted in concert, or the acts of others that were reasonably foreseen in connection with the criminal activity. Indirect relevant conduct without formal charges may lead to a higher sentence range.

Call Us 24/7

Get Your First Consultation FREE!