By Stephen Sebald:
Conspiracy may seem like just a plot that has yet to be fully acted upon, but in the legal world, a being a part of a conspiracy is a crime. This can occur when there is an agreement to commit a crime between two or more people, where at least one of the members in the agreement makes an overt act to further the conspiracy. For example, if you and another person agree to shoot someone and that other person goes out and buys a gun, that act could be enough to be considered an overt act enough to charge you with conspiracy even though you only agreed. The prosecutor only has to prove that the people allegedly involved in the conspiracy were working together to eventually commit a crime. Conspiracy roles can be miniscule or large, and can have little to do with the crime itself. Conspiring to commit a crime and committing a crime may sound like two distinct things—and they are—but they are both offenses under the law.
In the past, courts have held that you can be charged with another person even if you have never met. They focus on whether you knew the other person was doing something to further the alleged conspiracy. An example of this could be agreeing to rob a bank with someone and that someone shows you ski masks purchased.
In many cases, the links between the people allegedly in a conspiracy and the conspiracy itself are miniscule. As mentioned in the example above, you may agree to rob a bank with a friend as a joke, but once they purchase those ski masks, you are tied to the conspiracy with them. The purchase of ski masks may be a little far-fetched to link it to the furtherance of robbing a bank, but under the broadness of a conspiracy charge it is possible to be charged with conspiracy to rob a bank. In circumstances like the above example, it is usually not likely for a prosecutor to charge you for a conspiracy because the overt act is not so reaching, but under the law, the example warrants a charge.
The law of conspiracy seems to be a catchall, trying to find every possible guilty party in serious crimes such as those related to drugs and gangs. Determining whether an act in furtherance of the crime is overt can also be confusing. Agreeing to play a minor role in a larger drug-dealing scheme can lead you to serious charges similar to those who played major roles.
If you have been charged with conspiracy or if you are concerned about the implications of it, give us a call at Sebald, Hackwelder, & Knox. We have the experience to help you with your charge. Call today: (814) 833-1987.