Crime Overview Conspiracy

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The crime of conspiracy occurs when two or more people form an agreement to commit a crime. There is no limit on the number of people who can participate in the conspiracy. Conspiracy law requires that the parties involved devise to engage in an illegal act, and have a general intent to break the law. A criminal conspiracy occurs when two or more people plan and agree to participate in a corrupt act, and one or more of them engages in the criminal activity in furtherance of that plan.

The success of the plan can be irrelevant. For example if two people plan to commit murder, but the murder is prevented, the crime of conspiracy still exists. There are several types of conspiracy. These include conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to corrupt public morals or to outrage public decency, and statutory conspiracy.

In order to be convicted of conspiracy, the prosecution must show beyond a reasonable doubt that:
Two or more persons came to a mutual understanding in order to try to accomplish and common and unlawful plan
The person charged willfully became a member of the conspiracy
One of the conspirators knowingly committed some part of the crime
An \'overt act\' (any transaction or event, even one which may be entirely innocent when considered alone,but which is knowingly committed by a conspirator in an effort to accomplish some object of the conspiracy) was knowingly committed at or around the time alleged in an effort to carry out or accomplish some object of the conspiracy

A person can be a part of a conspiracy without knowing all of its details and without knowing who the other members are. If the person understands that the act they are conspiring to commit is unlawful and continues nonetheless, then that person counts as part of the conspiracy.

When being charged with a conspiracy, it is not required that all parties to the conspiracy be known or charged with the crime. For example, paying someone to kill another person constitutes a conspiracy between the person with the money and the person with the gun. If only the hit man is found and charged with the murder and the payee\'s identity is unknown by the police or even by the hit man, a conspiracy still exists.

Individuals can be charged with conspiracy, even if they had only a small part in the overall crime, if they are proven to have general knowledge of the nature of the crime and intentionally played a part in the plan. It is not necessary that they know all the details or even all the members of the conspiracy to be charged with the crime.

Conspiracy laws can help prosecutors of criminal activity when it is unknown which person involved in the crime actually committed the illegal act. If two people conspire to rob a bank, one person may wait in the getaway car while the other enters the bank and robs it. If the two are later captured, but it cannot be determined who was the driver and who was the robber, both can be charged with conspiracy. It is not necessary for prosecutors to prove exactly which individual participated in which illegal acts to gain a conviction.

Corporations and governments can also be engaged in conspiracies. If corporations conspire with each other to form a monopoly, it can be a corporate conspiracy. Anti-trust laws were established to prevent corporate conspiracies that would hurt consumers through the restraint of trade, price fixing or by reducing competitive markets.

If you have been accused of the crime of conspiracy, it is advisable to contact, and retain, a criminal attorney to aid in your defense. Whether or not you are guilty of the conspiracy, a criminal defense attorney can help you in your legal battle and explain the entire legal process to you in order to keep you abreast of all the proceedings. The American Bar Association, or the Bar Association of your state, can help you locate a criminal attorney with experience defending criminal charges of conspiracy.