Conspiracy: When Planning a Crime is a Crime

When it comes to being charged with conspiracy, it is one of those crimes that you often don’t get charged for on its own. This is because conspiracy is the charge of actually planning a crime and not necessarily carrying it out. This means you could be plotting a serious crime, and if you carry it out, you could face a conspiracy charge as well as a charge for the actual crime. If for some reason you were caught in the planning stages, you could be charged with conspiracy alone, but often that is fairly easy to defend against. However, while the punishments for conspiracy on its own are not huge, when combined with the crime itself, it can add on to a series of punishments that you would rather avoid by having the right legal defense.

Conspiracy – Explained

Often conspiracy charges are the most confusing criminal charges you can face because many don’t actually understand what crimes conspiracy represents. However, the easiest way of explaining it is to say that even planning to commit a crime is a crime.

As an example, say two people were planning to rob a bank. They scouted out the bank and all the details, they gathered the weapons and masks needed, but the night before they planned to carry out the robbery, a friend called the police and they were arrested for conspiracy to commit a robbery. A more recently relevant example may include news you may hear of children planning to commit a school shooting. Someone they know reports them to the police and they can be arrested for conspiracy even though they had not yet committed any criminal actions.

Furthermore, if you do actually go through with the crime, on top of facing the criminal charges for a robbery, as an example, you will also face charges for conspiracy to commit robbery. This can only be true if you planned the robbery out beforehand, because planning a crime is a crime. If you spontaneously walked into a shop and decided to rob them, that is not a planned crime and thus there will be no conspiracy charges.

Agreement in Conspiracy

If you have been party to a crime, you may worry that conspiracy charges may be coming your way despite not actually going and committing the crime. In this instance and in all instances of conspiracy that happens between two or more people, there is a certain degree of agreement that is required.

This doesn’t mean that you have to specifically say “I agree to plan this crime with you,” although that would certainly make a prosecutor happy if it were recorded. However, in order to charge other people with conspiracy to commit a crime even if they did not take place in the crime it must be proven that you showed a certain degree of agreement. In courts, typical various meetings, negotiations, and especially transactions can be used to prove agreement and thus involvement. However, you have to be proven to be in agreement to commit the crime and contribute in some way. Even if you were just the one that was going to be stashing the goods, that is involvement and agreement, thus you can face a conspiracy charge.

However, it is crucial to remember that simply being present while a crime is being planned does not necessarily mean you are conspiring. This is usually where agreement comes into play. If you were simply at a bank robber’s meeting to cook dinner for them, a prosecutor might argue that since you did not report wrongdoing, than that is conspiracy. However, just because you were present at a meeting doesn’t mean you are a conspirator. You must have taken some kind of action that denotes agreement that you will take part in the crime.

Intent in Conspiracy

When it comes to proving conspiracy, like with all other crimes, the prosecutor is primarily charged with proving that you had the sufficient intent to commit conspiracy. Just like with the fact that all involved need to have an agreement to commit the crime, you need to have intent to achieve the outcome of the crime. It doesn’t matter if you actually intend to commit the crime, but changed your mind, often planning is enough for intent.

Intent and agreement are actually very similar to each other. This means if you were somehow in agreement with a crime, such as you helped scope out a bank, then it is likely that you had enough intent to be charged with conspiracy as well.

Penalties of Conspiracy

The penalties for conspiracy are pretty hard to pin down because it always depends on the level and nature of a crime. For example, if you face conspiracy for a misdemeanor level crime, you may face a $1,000 fine and maybe 90 days in jail for the conspiracy alone. However, if it is a conspiracy charge for a felony, that could result in 20 years behind bars.

Often when facing conspiracy charges, you will be punished for both committing the act (if applicable) and the conspiracy to commit it, meaning you planned it beforehand. However, if you didn’t actually go through with it, the conspiracy punishments cannot exceed the maximum punishments for the actual crime. The more serious the charge you are facing, the more serious the punishment for conspiracy alone will be.

Need Help?

Are you facing a conspiracy charge in Minnesota? Then you most certainly need help. While facing conspiracy charges alone is not completely rare, often when you find yourself facing a charge of conspiracy, you are also facing the charges for the actual crime as well. No matter what the crime was – whether it was first-degree murder or burglary – contact us today to see what we can do to help you. The Law Firm of Villaume & Schiek is dedicated to making sure you get the best possible outcome from your criminal trial so you aren’t left facing the maximum punishments for a crime that doesn’t really warrant it.