When two or more people agree to carry out a criminal act with the intent to actually commit the offense, they can face conspiracy charges. Conspiracy can be tried at the state or federal level. State and federal prosecutors commonly add conspiracy charges in felony cases against those whom they might not have much evidence participated in a crime. Many times, the crimes associated with conspiracy are federal crimes such as white collar or drug crimes.
Those convicted of their crimes can face longer sentences if they are found guilty of conspiracy. The U.S. Attorney’s Office favors conspiracy charges because the charges provide them leverage during plea negotiations. Conspiracy charges enhance penalties in ways that are otherwise unachievable through individual charges. Defendants facing conspiracy charges often get a better deal when they testify against their co-conspirators — precisely the results the U.S. Attorney’s Office seeks.
Conspiracy Charges in West Palm Beach
Under Florida law, conspiracy is an agreement between two or more parties to commit a criminal offense, with the intent to commit that offense. The prosecution must establish two elements beyond a reasonable doubt to prove conspiracy:
- The defendant intended to commit the crime
- The defendant agreed with another person to cause the offense to be committed by them or by another party.
Federal Conspiracy Charges
The United States Code contains several statutes about conspiracy. 18 U.S.C. Section 371 makes it illegal to agree with another person to devise a criminal plan to defraud the United States government or to violate other federal laws. A person charged with drug trafficking or distribution, money laundering, racketeering, mail or wire fraud, child pornography, or another federal offense may face conspiracy charges if he or she worked with others to commit or attempt to commit the crime.
There may be several defendants in a conspiracy case; often times, alleged participants in an offense have never even met. This is fairly common in federal drug cases in which prosecutors believe a defendant who played a minor role in the scheme played a larger part. An experienced federal defense lawyer is indispensable at this time.
A keen defense lawyer will examine all the facts of your case to determine the best defense strategy. Though conspiracy charges are often challenging to defend, your attorney will work with you to educate you on the different legal options available so that you can make the best decision for your case.
Some defenses to conspiracy include:
- Lack of proof of an agreement
- No agreement to commit the same offense
- Mere presence at the crime scene
- Mere aiding and abetting
- Minimal involvement without agreement
Talk to a veteran criminal defense attorney in West Palm Beach like Brian Gabriel to discuss the conspiracy charges you may face if you are under investigation. Brian has over 30 years of experience handling misdemeanor, felony, and federal cases throughout South Florida. Call 561-622-5575 or email us a description of your situation. We will help you set up a free consultation.