You’ve been indicted on federal conspiracy charges — and you’re not even sure what that means.
It may seem overwhelming thinking of the prospect of proving your case when you don’t even understand how you ended up charged with such an offense. Making sense of these charges will be key to devising a defense strategy in your case.
How does federal law define conspiracy?
The federal statute that pertains to conspiracy is Title 18 United States Code (USC) § 371. It defines conspiracy as a situation in which two or more individuals become aligned and devise a plan to violate federal law.
In other words, a conspiracy is any situation in which two (or more) people collaborate on a crime. No matter how slight your involvement, you can be considered a co-conspirator.
Elements prosecutors must prove in conspiracy cases
Just like any other criminal matter, prosecutors must prove certain elements in conspiracy cases:
- A defendant collaborated with someone else to violate U.S. law
- The acts the defendant agreed to commit with others were overtly criminal
Judges generally provide juries with instructions before ordering them to deliberate a verdict. One of those will be to convict if they believe that the prosecution has successfully proven the two elements above.
Why you should tackle conspiracy charges head-on
If convicted on federal conspiracy charges, the potential penalty is a five-year prison term or a $250,000 fine. This sentence may be imposed in addition to any other penalties that you face, and you’ll forever have to carry the burden of a federal conviction on your record.
You need to be very strategic in building a defense strategy. Your future is counting on it.