Criminal conspiracy is filed against a person who has entered into an agreement with another person to commit a crime or an illegal act. A conviction for a conspiracy charge is successful when it proves that the act started in the carrying out of the agreement
Criminal conspiracy happens when one or more individuals plan to execute a crime and then take some action toward carrying out that plan. The action taken does not have to be the crime itself but to boost the conspiracy. In some jurisdictions, conspiracy can still be charged whether the crime transpires or not; as long as it is proven that conspiracy exists.
Elements of conspiracy:
In actuality, a conspiracy charge does not require the participation of many conspirators.
The main elements of conspiracy are: a specific intention & agreement with another person to perform a crime; and the commission of an opened act by one of the conspirators to further the conspiracy. The essence of a conspiracy is the agreement to commit a crime that makes a conspirator responsible for the foreseeable acts of another.
Conspiracy is made a crime under the federal statute; especially when more than a single person agrees to commit any fraud against the U.S. or to cheat any of its agencies in any way to reach the purpose of the conspiracy. Although in some jurisdictions, an attempted one is not considered a crime,
Criminal conspiracy in Pennsylvania:
The definition of criminal conspiracy is clearly pronounced at 18 PACS 903. Under the Pennsylvania Criminal Code, a person has to be careful with whom he/she conspires as he may be found guilty of more than he expects.
Example: If Tom and Eddie plan to rob a bank. First, they visit the bank to observe the security; pool their finances; purchase weapons; buy ski masks to wear during the robbery and write the demand letter. These preparations can already be the basis to charge them with conspiracy even if the bank robbery has not been committed.
In fact in most states, persons who helped plan the crime but were not participants in its actual commission will be given the same punishment as the person who carried out the crime itself. The person committing the robbery can have dual charges: for the crime and conspiracy to commit the crime.
Criminal conspiracy under the Pennsylvania Criminal Code:
In prosecuting a Criminal Conspiracy, the Pa. District Attorney will find a person guilty if he can prove that the accused is aware that the person he was dealing with was also conspiring with someone else. In other words, if a person conspires with one friend to steal a car, and that friend includes 3 other people, he may be guilty of conspiring with everyone.
If found guilty, the element of criminal conspiracy will open the door to harsher punishments.
This type of crime does not have a sentencing grading. If a person is found guilty of criminal conspiracy, his/her penalty is graded as the crime that was actually committed. In other words, if he/she is found guilty of criminal conspiracy with another felony, then the sentence for conspiracy will be set at the felony level. He may receive a double sentence and serve a double punishment.
Defense against charges:
An experienced criminal attorney has a number of defenses to help face the charges. First, the District Attorney has to prove that an agreement has been made with at least one other person. The D.A. will find this quite difficult to prove as most witnesses are shy to appear in court. Second, the D.A. must prove that a substantial step was taken by the accused towards completing the plan. Lastly, the accused cannot be guilty of criminal conspiracy if he/she completely and changes voluntarily his mind and tried to prevent the crime
What to do if charged with conspiracy:
In facing a conspiracy charge under the Pennsylvania Criminal Code, your best option is to contact lawyer as soon as possible. The crime of planning is the most ordinary act of a conspiracy. Just remember that anytime there is more than one person arrested for the same crime; there is a chance that all of you will be charged with the same crime.