Los Angeles Conspiracy Defense Lawyer
How is conspiracy a crime?
A conspiracy is an agreement by two or more persons (each referred to as a conspirator or co-conspirator) to commit a crime. Conspiracy is commonly referred to as a "partnership in crime." It is a different offense from the crime itself, and is punished separately. Conspiracy is still a crime even if the planned crime was not committed.
Conspiracy charges may be filed in federal court, which may result in a harsher penalty, or state court. Conspiracy is almost always charged as a felony offense. Occasionally, conspiracy is charged as a misdemeanor, particularly when the planned crime is not a felony. Either way, you need a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney on your side.
Criminal Conspiracy Law in California
In California, conspiracy law is defined in Penal Code Section 182. Conspiracy generally refers to an agreement by two or more people to commit a crime. At least one person, co-conspirator, or defendant, must commit an overt act in "furtherance" of the criminal conspiracy. An overt act in furtherance is an act by one or more members of the conspiracy that is done to help accomplish the agreed upon crime. The overt act must occur after the defendant or a conspirator has agreed to commit the crime.
The overt act must be more than the act of agreeing or planning to commit the crime, but it does not necessarily have to be a criminal act itself.
The overt act could be something as trivial as making a phone call, renting a car, or writing a letter. The agreement between the co-conspirators does not have to be an explicit, detailed or formal agreement to commit the crime. This agreement may be inferred from conduct if the members of the conspiracy acted with common purpose to commit the crime. Under California law, the people who conspire to commit the crime do not have to personally know the identity or roles of the other members.
California Penal Code Section 182 specifies illegal conspiracies, including:
- Conspiracy to commit any crime - refers to a state misdemeanor or felony
- Conspiracy to falsely and maliciously get someone else arrested
- Conspiracy to falsely move any suit, proceeding, or action
- Conspiracy to cheat and defraud any person of property
- Conspiracy to commit an act injurious to the public or to obstruct justice
- Conspiracy to commit a crime against a public official such as the President or Vice President of the United States, the Governor of any state, any United States judge or justice, or the secretary of any executive branch department of the United States.
The Penalties for Conspiracy
Conspiracy is an independent crime and can be punished in addition to the intended crime. Thus, if two or more people conspire to commit murder and then murder someone, each person involved in the conspiracy is potentially guilty of two crimes: conspiracy to commit murder and murder. In some cases, the defendant may not be found guilty of the completed crime but will be found guilty of the conspiracy.
When conspirators conspire to commit a felony, they are punished in the same manner and to the same extent as is provided for the punishment of that felony. In other words, if a defendant is charged with conspiracy to commit residential first degree burglary and is also charged with residential burglary, punishable by two (2), four (4) or six (6) years in state prison, then a defendant found guilty of both the conspiracy and the burglary would be the same sentence for the conspiracy, and for the burglary.
Conspiracy to do any of the other acts mentioned in Penal Code Section 182 except for conspiracy to commit a crime against a public official such as the President etc., (see above) are punishable in county jail for not more than one year or by up to three years in the state prison. Conspiracy to commit a crime against a public official as mentioned above is punishable in the state prison by five (5), seven (7) or nine (9) years.
A member of a conspiracy is criminally responsible for all of the crimes committed by the co-conspirators that occur within the scope and in furtherance of the conspiracy, regardless of whether or not he or she assisted in the commission of the crimes or was even aware of the crimes.
Contact Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners in Los Angeles
We have handled many cases involving conspiracy charges. The penalties for a conspiracy conviction are frequently as severe as the penalties are for the underlying crime. In many conspiracy cases, prosecutors attempt to pit one co-conspirator against the other to get the evidence they need for a conviction. The ordeal can quickly become overwhelming. Let an experienced lawyer from our office review the conspiracy charges against you. Together, we can evaluate the charges and evidence against you, any potential defenses, and your options in fighting the charges against you.
Contact a Los Angeles conspiracy attorney at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners.