Despite the frequency with which federal prosecutors tack on conspiracy charges, federal criminal conspiracy remains a nebulous and broad term. To avoid these charges, it’s imperative to understand what exactly constitutes a federal criminal conspiracy. In this brief article, a federal criminal defense attorney in Tampa will describe the four elements that make up a federal criminal conspiracy.
A federal criminal conspiracy begins with an agreement between two or more parties to achieve an illegal goal. This agreement doesn’t have to be formal. It can be a general understanding among the conspirators and made at any time. The existence of an agreement can be proved by circumstantial evidence and by an accused’s current or previous actions and criminal behavior.
The goal that is agreed upon must, of course, be illegal. Specifically, the goal is to break federal law. Examples of federal crimes include counterfeiting, kidnapping, bank robbery, and drug trafficking. It is not necessary for a person to know the illegality of the agreement for them to be charged with federal criminal conspiracy.
A federal prosecutor would have to prove that an accused knew about the conspiracy. However, the accused would not need to know everyone involved in the agreement or even every aspect of the illegal goal. Even those on the fringes of a conspiracy can be found guilty if it can be proven that they had knowledge of and participated in the conspiracy.
Typically, an overt act must be committed to advance the conspiracy; however, there are some federal statutes that forgo the need for such an act. This act shows that the breaking of federal crimes is not just the work of imagination, but a real possibility. It only needs to be committed by one conspirator, and the act itself doesn’t even have to be illegal. An accused can be held accountable for acts committed while they were involved in the conspiracy, but not before or after their involvement
Remember, a crime does not have to take place for someone to be convicted of a criminal conspiracy, only the plan to commit a crime. When facing potential federal conspiracy charges, consult with a federal criminal conspiracy defense lawyer in Tampa at The Rickman Law firm.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.