Criminal Defense Attorneys Fight Your Federal Conspiracy Charge
Facing a federal conspiracy charge can be frightening. Here’s what you need to know as you face this situation.
Facing a Conspiracy Charge
Under the United States government, federal conspiracy charges can be brought against someone accused of conspiring to commit any crime against the United States.
To prove that someone is guilty of such a crime, the prosecution must show that they had an agreement or “contract” with at least one other person to commit a crime and that they took some action or made some decision to further this agreement.
It is essential for defendants facing federal conspiracy charges in court to understand what they are being charged with and their rights when defending themselves.
Contacting a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible helps you understand your charges and the possible penalties involved if the case goes to trial. The law firm of Scrofano Law, P.C., may help you avoid an indictment.
What Is Federal Conspiracy?
Although many people are familiar with the state laws, they may wonder what a conspiracy charge is. They are unaware that in certain circumstances having a hypothetical discussion with the wrong people may result in government charges if there are at least two elements as outlined under the general conspiracy statute.
Federal conspiracy is a criminal offense brought against an individual who knowingly agrees to commit a crime with another person or persons. The agreement to commit the crime must be made with one or more people, which are usually not identified in the conspiracy charge.
The law of conspiracy requires that at least two or more persons conspire to commit an overt act and then take some action to further the agreement. This could include planning, researching, or purchasing materials to carry out the agreed-upon plan.
Understanding the Federal Law
Federal conspiracy laws are used to prosecute people who have acted together to commit a crime. The law is usually applied in cases where it would be difficult to prove that an individual committed the crime.
Still, it can also be applied when a person has been charged with conspiracy and there is evidence that they have committed other crimes.
What constitutes a federal criminal act might surprise you. Examples of actions that violate federal law include the following:
- Conspiracies to defraud two or more people
- Conspire either to commit a federal crime or to engage in a criminal enterprise
- Conspire to defraud the United States
- Drug conspiracy cases
- Drug possession with intent to distribute
- Interstate commerce cases
Depending on your case, a federal drug lawyer may be able to construct an affirmative defense that causes federal prosecutors to consider withdrawing charges against a co-conspirator or introduces reasonable doubt in the minds of the judge or jury.
Federal Conspiracy Guidelines and Requirements
The federal conspiracy guidelines are broad and cover many different types of crimes. There are many requirements for conspiracy statutes and guidelines to follow.
Some of the federal conspiracy law requirements are that you must:
- have an agreement to commit a crime with another person
- have knowledge of the criminal plan
- intend to commit a crime or aid in the commission of a crime.
The guidelines for this law are that it can be used against any type of offense, not just against crimes that are already illegal.
Then, it is up to the prosecuting attorney to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt in the trial. The attorney for the defense will attempt to offer another example of what happened to introduce reasonable doubt.
Punishment for a Conspiracy Charge in Federal Court
A person accused of conspiring to commit a crime against the United States, for example, the crime of espionage, is charged in federal court. Since many types of crimes could receive a conspiracy charge in federal court, the punishments vary.
Typically, the prosecutors allege that the accused person knowingly and willfully acted with someone else to commit an act that would violate U.S. law if done.
They may also allege that the accused was acting within the scope of their employment as an officer or employee of the official government organization or any agency thereof or that their action would be prejudicial to the United States or would be detrimental to its interests, either national security-wise or economically.
Understanding 18 U.S.C. 371 Conspiracy to Commit Offense
Under 18 U.S.C. 371, a person conspiring to commit an offense against the United States or to defraud the government will be charged with federal criminal conspiracy.
Generally speaking, the persons who commit the offense, if convicted, will be sentenced to no more than five years in federal prison or a fine, or both.
An experienced fraud attorney can help advise you and plan a defense strategy if you are charged with conspiracy to commit federal crimes.
Beating Conspiracy Charge
In order to beat a conspiracy charge, it is crucial for the defendant to know that they have a right to a lawyer.
The police may tell the defendant that they don’t need one, but this is a lie. If they request the presence of an attorney from a local law firm, the police will not be able to talk to them without their lawyer present.
If you are charged with federal conspiracy, the first thing you should do is to call your lawyer and ask them what they can do for you. They will be able to provide more information on how the law works and what your options are.
What is the Nature of a Conspiracy Charge?
A conspiracy charge in federal court is serious. If convicted, you face the maximum punishment provided by law for the underlying crime.
The overt act requirement says that the government must show that you committed an act in furtherance of the conspiracy. The government does not have to show that you actually completed the underlying crime, only that you took a step towards completing it.
The government will also try to show that you knew the illegal nature of the conspiracy and that you intended to break the law.
The best way to defend against a conspiracy charge is to attack the government’s case. Your lawyer will look for holes in the prosecution’s case and use them to your advantage.
Retaining Legal Services for Charges of Conspiracies
If you do not already have legal counsel, contact Scrofano Law, P.C., to schedule a free consultation. They can assess the manner in which you were arrested, what co-conspirators are accused, what additional evidence there is, and whether you did, in fact, commit the offense. They can craft a defense strategy that may be able to help you avoid a conspiracy conviction.
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