If they weren’t privy to them before, in the wake of COVID-19, most people are now aware of conspiracy theories. These are extremely common and seem to abound during just about any major crisis. However, criminal conspiracy theories are a bit different. Whereas conspiracy theories are not illegal, conspiring to commit a crime with someone is. Even just being accused of criminal conspiracy can irreparably impact a defendant’s life.
What Is Conspiracy?
Depending upon the circumstances of an alleged crime, conspiracy can be charged at a federal or state level. California law defines conspiracy as when two or more people agree to commit a crime and at least one of these individuals takes a step towards committing it. It is not necessary that a crime is actually committed (or even attempted) in order to be convicted. Rather, they must only begin the process of committing one. For instance, even buying a gun with the intent to kill someone can be considered a step towards the act of murder, and those involved can be arrested and charged with conspiracy.
Concerning the federal level of conspiracy, it uses the same definition as the state of California but applies to situations in which the federal government has jurisdiction. For instance, if multiple people conspired to commit wire fraud (or other crimes in which they cross state lines) the federal government would have jurisdiction and be handled by a federal prosecutor.
The proof needed by the prosecution to prove that conspiracy has been committed is very simple. There are just two things that must be proven:
- Two or more individuals agreed to commit a crime; and
- One participant took steps to commit the crime.
The prosecution doesn’t need to show proof of any type of formal contract between parties – just that two or more people were working together to commit a crime. For instance, if someone gave their friend money to buy a gun that they knew would be used to shoot and kill someone, they would most likely be guilty of conspiracy.
Defending Against a Charge of Conspiracy
Although the elements for proving conspiracy – or at least charging individuals with it – are simple, defending against such a charge is usually anything but. To defend yourself against a conspiracy charge often demands the help of a qualified California criminal defense attorney who has experience defending against conspiracy charges.
Various common defenses include that:
- You never agreed to commit a crime
- There was no act or attempt to commit a crime
- There was no intent to commit a crime
- You backed out of the plan prior to the act
The Law Office of Ronald L. Freeman Helps Those in California Who Have Been Charged with a Crime
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in California, you should be sure to take it seriously. Such a charge can have tremendous life-long effects on you, impacting everything from where you can work to where you can live, to what you are allowed to possess. That’s why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced San Bernardino and Riverside criminal defense attorney who understands criminal law and can help to walk you through the whole process.
At the Law Office of Ronald L. Freeman, our San Bernardino and Riverside criminal defense attorneys will work to defend your freedom, collect proper evidence to help your case and work hard to have the criminal charges against you dropped or your reduced. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!