When can you be convicted of a crime without actually being directly involved in the crime itself? What about a crime that never even happened? You can if you’re part of a criminal conspiracy.
Conspiracy charges are hard for people to understand – mostly because many of those charged don’t see themselves as really having been involved in the underlying crime. In fact, you can end up in handcuffs even when the underlying crime was never completed. All you have to do is enter into an agreement with another party while fully intending to commit a crime to be guilty.
What kinds of crimes are charged as conspiracies?
Quite often, the underlying events that drive criminal conspiracies fall into one of the following categories:
- Gang activity
- Drug trafficking
- Weapons trafficking
- Human trafficking
- Internet or wire fraud
- Medicare fraud
The exact penalty for a conspiracy conviction can vary because it’s based on the underlying charge, whether that is drug trafficking through a “pill mill” or a murder-for-hire scheme.
It’s important to realize that prosecutors often use conspiracy charges to gain some kind of leverage they want against more active or important members of a group – but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t serious. With a conspiracy charge, a low-level “runner” for a drug trafficking operation who barely knows what’s going on could face the same potential penalties as someone who smuggled the drugs in from another country and across state lines.
If you’re facing any kind of criminal conspiracy charges, whether for a white collar crime or a crime of violence, don’t talk to the police until you fully understand your legal position.