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What Is a Federal Criminal Conspiracy?

Have you recently been arrested and charged with federal criminal conspiracy, or are you awaiting charges? A federal criminal conspiracy charge is a serious matter that could be punishable by up to five years in prison. Keep in mind that conspiracy is often brought up in addition to other charges, so the accused may be facing decades in jail if convicted of various related charges. Because of the serious nature of the charges that you are or may be facing, it is important to understand the situation fully.

Defining Federal Criminal Conspiracy
There are two primary components of federal criminal conspiracy that must be met. These are an agreement between two or more people to try to commit an unlawful act and to willfully participate in the act. Keep in mind that the accused does not need to be aware of the entire plan or be involved in the entire plan. He or she only needs to be aware of the unlawful act and join in participation at some level.

More specifically, there are three elements of a federal criminal conspiracy charge. The first is an agreement, which could be expressly agreed to or implied. The accused only needs to be aware of one unlawful portion of the full conspiracy plan in order to be charged and convicted. The second element of a federal criminal conspiracy charge is intent to commit the crime. It is not enough to be knowledgeable of the crime. The accused must have had some specific intent to participate in the criminal act in some way. Finally, the act or intent to commit the act must be overt.

Types of Federal Criminal Conspiracy Charges
Many federal conspiracy charges are related to white-collar criminal acts. These may involve healthcare fraud, bank fraud, tax fraud and computer crimes. Other white-collar conspiracy charges may be for securities fraud, Medicare fraud, money laundering and mail or wire fraud. Conspiracy charges may involve other types of crimes as well. For example, a common charge is conspiracy to violate the Controlled Substances Act. Another includes conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Conspiracy occurs when an individual plans to participate in the crime even if he or she did not actually participate in the illegal acts. Finally, an overt act related to criminal activity must be committed. This overt act, however, does not need to be committed by the accused in order for the accused to be convicted of conspiracy.

Challenges Defending Against Federal Criminal Conspiracy Charges
There are three challenges that defendants face with federal criminal conspiracy charges. For example, a co-conspirator’s statements may be used as evidence against the defendant in court. In addition, all co-conspirators may be tried in the same trial. This is more advantageous to the prosecutor because of its efficiency and because of the clear admission of hearsay from other defendants. Finally, the prosecutor does not need to prove that the defendant agreed to further the crime in some way. Instead, he or she only needs to see that the crime was foreseeable.

Effective Defense Strategies
While each case is unique, there are three effective defense strategies that have been commonly and successfully used in federal criminal conspiracy charges. One of these is renunciation. For example, a defendant may have attempted to thwart the crime by acting as an informant to law enforcement officials. Withdrawal is another defense strategy that has been used effectively. The individual must have notified all co-conspirators that he or she did not intend to participate in the criminal plan before the crime occurred. Impossibility may also be used as a defense. This defense is successful when no law has actually been broken even if the co-conspirators believed that they were breaking a law.

Request a Consultation Today
The conviction of a federal criminal conspiracy charge comes with serious consequences. These charges are notoriously difficult to defend against, but there are some effective strategies that a defense lawyer may use. With this in mind, it is important to start working with an experienced criminal defense attorney as early in the process as possible. Today is the right time to request a consultation with a defense attorney.

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