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Federal Conspiracy

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Simply put, a conspiracy is an agreement by two or more individuals to commit a criminal act and at least one of the individuals within the agreement makes an overt act in furtherance of that agreement. For example, suppose Wafa and Taylor make an agreement to rob a bank later in the week. Then suppose Wafa buys two ski masks so they can conceal their appearances during the robbery. Wafa and Taylor are now all guilty of the crime of conspiracy. This is true irrespective of whether they ultimately rob the bank or not.

If you look at this hypothetical example, you can see why federal prosecutors love the idea of conspiracy so much. Although it is unlikely they would bring conspiracy charges in this limited hypothetical, they can. If they decided to, they don't need to prove that the bank robbery was actually committed or even attempted to be committed. They don't even need to prove that Wafa and Taylor actually were the ones who were going to rob the bank. They don't even need to prove that Wafa and Taylor even knew the identity of the actual robbers. All the government needs to prove to convict Taylor for the conspiracy is that he made an agreement with at least one other individual to break the law and someone within that agreement committed an overt act to further advance the agreement.

For Further Clarification

While this kind of criminal agreement is illustrative of how the conspiracy doctrine works, to truly understand the power of conspiracy, it is perhaps more illustrative to think about it in terms of a narcotics conspiracy.

Here is an example:

  • Suppose there is an enormous operation that involves 10 people who are divided into three locations: Colombia, Miami, and New York
  • Three people grow coca leaves in Colombia and process it into cocaine
  • Two other people then transport the cocaine from Colombia and smuggle it into Miami
  • One person then drives the cocaine from Miami to New York
  • Four people then sell that cocaine out on the streets of New York

Every single one of these people are guilty of being in a conspiracy to violate the narcotics laws of the United States. It is of no consequence that the people who sell the cocaine in the streets of New York never even met the Colombian part of the conspiracy. Nor does it matter that the people in Colombia never even entered the United States. These people all made an agreement with at least one other person to violate a United States law and there was at least one overt act.

To truly understand conspiracy, let's even take it a step further:

  • Suppose this conspiracy has been in place for 10 years
  • There is now an 11th person and this 11th person introduced the New York drug dealers to a friend of his so that the friend can buy some of the cocaine from the dealers so he can resell it in New Jersey
  • Assume that introduction was the only contact that the 11th person or his friend had with this established conspiracy of 10 years

It makes no difference. The 11th person and the friend are now just as guilty of being a part of that conspiracy as if they were there from the beginning of it. So is the accountant who knowingly launders their money.

The Severity of Conspiracy Charges

Being a part of any conspiracy to violate a federal law is its own crime and it is serious. In addition, many federal statutes have a conspiracy component to them. For example, the conspiracy law is written into the federal drug laws. It is also written into the federal bank robbery statute. This makes it especially easy for the government to prevail against individuals accused of a crime because they can be convicted of the conspiracy even if there isn't enough evidence to convict them of the actual criminal goal of the conspiracy.

Call (212) 577-9328 for Effective Defense

There are, however, defenses to conspiracy laws. If you or a loved is has been arrested for being a part of a criminal conspiracy, it is imperative that you hire an experienced drug crimes attorney in Manhattan.

Contact a skilled criminal defense attorney in Manhattan today for a free consultation by calling us at (212) 577-9328.

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