Criminal conspiracy involves an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime or to execute an illegal act. Federal prosecutors typically include this type of crime with other charges, such as drug manufacturing and weapons offenses, fraud, money laundering, and other high-level federal crimes. What’s unique about conspiracy cases is that even if the ultimate crime was not committed, the conspirators could still be convicted for planning the crime.
If you have been charged with conspiracy, Philadelphia conspiracy defense lawyer Lloyd Long can fight for you. Lloyd Long possesses extensive knowledge of the Pennsylvania and federal legal systems, allowing him to navigate clients through the law’s complexities with skill and precision. The Law Offices of Lloyd Long can provide you with the aggressive and relentless defense necessary to protect your rights and reputation. For a free consultation on your case, contact the Law Offices of Lloyd Long today at (215) 525-6818.
What Constitutes Criminal Conspiracy in Pennsylvania?
Conspiracy is an “inchoate crime.” This means that the crime is committed before any action is even committed. For example, if you and a companion are caught with plans and maps for committing a bank robbery, but did not even visit the bank yet, you can still be arrested and charged with conspiracy.
A defendant can be convicted of conspiracy if they collude with one or more individuals to commit a crime. The conspirators can still be convicted of conspiracy if they only solicited or attempted a crime but did not complete the crime.
You cannot be convicted of conspiracy unless the prosecutors can prove you or a co-conspirator committed an “overt act.” An overt act is an act which substantially advances the possible commission of the crime. For example, purchasing a stolen gun in order to commit armed robbery would constitute an overt act.
Defenses to Criminal Conspiracy Charges
There are a few defenses to a criminal conspiracy charge which a defendant can potentially claim in Pennsylvania. These defenses include the following:
- Renunciation – Renunciation is a defense that can be used by an individual who rejects the conspiracy and takes steps to prevent the crime from being completed. For this defense to be valid, an individual must totally and voluntarily reject the conspiracy.
- Abandonment – Abandonment is presumed if neither the defendant, nor the people they conspired with, complete any actions to advance the conspiracy in a major way. If you abandon the plan to commit a crime, you can potentially avoid being charged with conspiracy. You can also abandon a conspiracy by alerting law enforcement of the conspiracy and any role you may have played. However, you should consult an attorney before speaking to the police.
- No Intent – If the alleged conspirators can successfully argue that they had no intent to commit the underlying crime, they may argue that there was never any real criminal plan. Conspiracy requires that there is an underlying intent to commit the crime, so merely discussing crime in the abstract or as a joke may not constitute a conspiracy.
- Entrapment – A police officer, or a person cooperating with the police, commits entrapment if they cause an otherwise innocent person to commit a crime. If the individual had the intent to commit a crime and undercover cops or their agents merely help them with the crime, it is not entrapment. If the police create the criminal intent, the defendant may potentially be acquitted because of entrapment.
- Duress – Being forced into a conspiracy under violence or the threat of violence may generally be a defense to the crime, unless the charges involve murder or conspiracy to commit murder.
Criminal Penalties for Conspiracy in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the penalty for committing conspiracy depends on the underlying crime that the defendants were attempting to commit. Therefore, if the defendants were attempting to commit murder, they may be charged with murder in the first degree. Murder in the first degree carries a penalty of death or life imprisonment.
Alternatively, if the conspirators plotted a crime like arson, they may be charged with a third degree felony. In Pennsylvania, a third degree felony carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison and $15,000 in fines. Each conspirator can only be charged once for a single conspiracy. Remember that the crime does not have to be completed to be charged with conspiracy.
There is also a federal statute for conspiracy that handles conspiracies to defraud the United States and conspiracies to commit other federal crimes. Any attempt or conspiracy to commit a crime against the U.S. federal government is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of five years and a fine.
Philadelphia Conspiracy Defense Lawyer Offering Free Consultations
If you are facing a criminal conspiracy charge or have been placed under arrest, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Philadelphia conspiracy lawyer Lloyd Long has handled thousands of felony cases in Pennsylvania. He can conduct a thorough investigation into your case, gather the necessary evidence, and interview the key witnesses to combat all allegations against you at the federal or state level. For a free consultation, contact the Law Offices of Lloyd Long online, or call (215) 525-6818.