Conspiracy is a broad federal offense that could potentially apply to various federal prosecutions. The expansiveness of a conspiracy offense allows federal prosecutors to uniformly prosecute multiple persons for the same crime, regardless of their level of involvement. If you or a loved one are facing a conspiracy charge, you may wish to consult a Charleston conspiracy lawyer right away.
Even if you did not commit a specific offense, you might still be implicated in a broader conspiracy. As a result, seeking the counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer may be essential to avoid some or all the harsh consequences of a conspiracy conviction.
Defining Conspiracy in Charleston
Conspiracy generally refers to situations in which two or more individuals plan to commit a criminal offense. 18 U.S. Code § 371 is a broad federal statute that makes it illegal to conspire to defraud the United States or any of its agencies, as well as to conspire to violate any federal law.
To prove a conspiracy charge, the prosecutor must typically prove the existence of the following elements:
- Two or more persons involved
- Voluntary and knowing agreement
- Common purpose to commit a specific federal crime
- At least one person takes an overt action to carry out the conspiracy following the agreement
The breadth of these general conspiracy statutes makes them more difficult to defend, so individuals may wish to consult a conspiracy lawyer in Charleston for legal advice.
Federal Crimes and Conspiracy
Conspiracy is a separate criminal offense than the underlying federal crime that the individuals involved were conspiring to commit. As a result, a conspiracy charge almost always accompanies another federal criminal charge. As a conspiracy attorney in Charleston may note, the individuals facing these charges may face separate penalties for each of the distinct criminal charges.
In addition to the general conspiracy statutes, federal law contains other conspiracy statutes that are specific to certain criminal offenses and explicitly include conspiracy as a prohibited action. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1201, for instance, it is a crime to conspire to commit kidnapping and transport alleged victims across state lines. Likewise, under 21 U.S.C. § 846, it is illegal to conspire to manufacture, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.
Penalties for Federal Conspiracy in Charleston
Most federal offenses have minimum and maximum sentences. The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines also identify specific mitigating and aggravating factors that may influence a recommended punishment.
Basic conspiracy charges are punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for organizations. Certain factors may impact the overall recommendation, such as whether the persons took a leadership role in the conspiracy or whether the conspiracy involved terroristic activities.
Contact a Charleston Conspiracy Attorney Today
Involvement in a conspiracy to commit a federal crime, no matter how minimal, can result in extremely harsh penalties, including years in federal prison. Under federal conspiracy statutes, you could be levied the same penalties as those who carried out the crime. With the consequences in mind, you may wish to contact a Charleston conspiracy lawyer for advice as quickly as possible.
If you are facing federal conspiracy charges, you should take every step necessary to minimize the chances of a conviction and the impact of the resulting penalties on your life. Retaining legal representation may be the most effective means of achieving these goals.