California penal code 182 PC discusses the legalities of conspiracy. Conspiracy is defined as the agreement between two or more people to commit a crime. Even if you did not actually commit the crime or take part in it, you are guilty of conspiracy if you agreed to take part in it at any time. For example, if you and your friend decide you are going to rob a bank, you could go to jail if he robs the bank and you aren’t even in the same state when it happens. Conspiracy is a dangerous crime because it can happen to anyone even if you never intended to commit any crimes.
How does conspiracy work?
If you agree to commit a crime, it’s a conspiracy. However, it’s only conspiracy if one of you actually goes through with committing the crime. If you agree to rob a bank and neither of you ever robs a bank, it’s just storytelling and games. It’s not a conspiracy. The moment one of you robs a bank, however, the problem is now conspiracy and you’re both guilty regardless your presence at the scene of the crime.
It goes further than just discussing it, too. You don’t have to agree to commit a crime to be guilty of conspiracy. For example, your friend could tell you they are robbing a home even though you tell them you want no part of that. You don’t want to take anything from anyone, you won’t drive the car, and you will not benefit from the money or goods stolen during the robbery. However, you do decide you’ll call the home first to see if someone is home before your friend arrives just to be sure he or she doesn’t get caught. Now you are a conspirator in their crime.
Penalties for Conspiracy
There isn’t a one size fits all punishment for conspiracy. The legalities of this crime depend heavily on the crime committed as well as other factors. If you simply agreed to it thinking you were just joking, you might be just as shocked as anyone when your friend really does go through with the crime. If you knew it was going to happen and simply backed out, you might be a little guiltier of this crime. If someone was hurt, if you planned on killing someone during your crime, or if the crime includes something like sexual abuse, kidnapping, or murder, your conspiracy role is a lot more serious.
You could face jail time. You could face monetary fines. You could face other penalties as well. For instance, if you were the conspirator in a crime that involved you drinking and driving, you also face DUI charges in addition to conspiracy. This changes the penalties and fines you must pay.
Defense Against Conspiracy
If you’re arrested and charged with conspiracy, you do have a chance to defend yourself in court. There are some very common defenses used in California.
– You did not agree to anything
– There was no overt act in the matter
– You decided you were not going to do it
– You were accused by someone else under false pretense
– You didn’t know there was a crime being committed
If you are discussing how to commit the perfect crime after watching a movie or reading a book with your book club, you might throw around ideas of how you would do this. You didn’t know someone in the group was really going through with it and using your ideas. Another scenario is you had no idea a crime was being committed. For example, your friend asks you to call another friend to see if they are home to see if they want to go out with you that night, but you didn’t know they were only having you call to see if they were home so they could stop by and rob them. You just thought you were issuing an invitation.
You have a right to defend yourself, and an attorney can help. Being charged with conspiracy is a felony, and it can result in jail time and expensive fines. It can cause you to carry a criminal record for the rest of your life, too. This can affect your ability to get a job, to provide for your family, and to survive financially.
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