Conspiracy charges come with potentially serious consequences, whether your underlying offense is a misdemeanor or felony. If you have been charged with conspiracy, contact a Buena Park conspiracy lawyer to start building a strong defense right away.
The Three Components of Conspiracy
A charge of conspiracy means a person has conspired with two or more people in the planning of an illegal act and that at least one co-conspirator has taken action to further the goal of committing the crime.
There are three components that must be present for a charge to meet the threshold for conspiracy. If one of these components can not be proven, the conspiracy charge cannot stand.
- Agreement: Conspirators agree to commit a crime. They have a plan, and they agree together to fulfill it. If three friends attend a rowdy party, one is punched by a partygoer, and the other two friends go on the attack and injure the person who punched their friend, there is no conspiracy. There was no established agreement to harm anyone.
- Intention: Conspirators intend to carry out the crime. Their goal is to complete the criminal act.
- Commission of an overt act: One conspirator executes an action that moves the crime toward completion. It is important to note that only one conspirator has to commit this action for all to be guilty.
Overt Action Explained
Overt actions are any action, whether legal or not, that moves the crime forward. If conspirators plan to rob a home and one of them watches that home to determine the best time to strike, that staking out is an overt action. Even if only one conspirator performs the action, its occurrence is enough to hold all conspirators legally responsible.
The overt act requirement is in place to protect people from being charged with conspiracy based on words alone. Action, not simply careless conversations and exaggerated words, is required for a conspiracy charge to hold.
For a free legal consultation with a conspiracy lawyer serving Buena Park, call (310) 896-2723
California Penal Code 182 provides an expanded explanation of what forms a conspiracy can take. Conspirators may conspire to commit murder, fraud, frame someone else for a crime, or perform act injuring public health, for example. Specific situations could include
- An activist group agrees to bomb the property of a company or organization whose practices they oppose. One or more activists researches how to build a bomb.
- An unhappy spouse starts a new relationship. The new couple plans to kill the married partner’s spouse, and one of them buys a gun to commit the murder.
- Two or more people develop a scheme to coerce “customers” into handing over identifying information so schemers can steal from the victims’ bank accounts. One conspirator sets up a phone number through which to conduct “business.”
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Understanding Conspiracy Charges
You can be charged with conspiracy even if you do not successfully carry out the agreed-upon crime. Any of the following situations make conspiracy charges possible:
- Conspirators agree to and have the intention of committing a criminal act. One or more of the conspirators commits the crime.
- Conspirators agree and have the intention to commit a criminal act. One (or more) conspirator performs an overt action that serves to further the commission of the crime.
- Conspirators agree to and have the intent to commit a crime. They carry out the crime collectively.
Penalties for Conspiracy Charges in Buena Park
If you are convicted of conspiracy, your punishment will equal the punishment issued for the crime you conspired to commit. In other words, the underlying offense determines your punishment.
According to California law, a felony is a crime that brings a maximum sentence of more than a year of incarceration. In California, felonies include but are not limited to murder, rape, sale of a controlled substance, fraud, and obstruction of justice.
If you conspired to commit more than one felony, you will receive the sentence relevant to the most serious offense.
Misdemeanor charges can bring up to a year in custody, fines, probation, or other court-ordered penalties. These are still serious consequences. If you are charged with conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor, having strong legal representation from a conspiracy lawyer in Buena Park is essential.
Your misdemeanor charges may also fall under the “wobbler” category. This means if your offense is especially serious or harmful, you can face felony charges for the misdemeanor offense.
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Defenses Your Buena Park Cpnspiracy Attorney Can Present on Your Behalf
An experienced conspiracy attorney in Buena Park knows it is difficult for the prosecution to prove the three components of conspiracy. With their expert knowledge of conspiracy laws and through their exhaustive investigation of your case, your lawyer will build a strong defense to achieve the best possible outcome.
Possible defenses include:
- Lack of agreement to commit a crime. If there is no agreement, there can be no conspiracy.
- Lack of intent. Without the intent to commit a crime, there is no conspiracy.
- Before any overt act was committed, you clearly articulated your withdrawal from the conspiracy.
- Lack of an overt act. If none of the conspirators committed an overt act to further the crime, they cannot be charged with conspiracy.
- Your alleged co-conspirator is your spouse.
- False accusation. Other defendants may dishonestly inflate your guilt to diminish their own.
- Injustice. Your lawyer may contend your Constitutional rights are being somehow violated.
- Your Constitutional rights have been violated
Other Conspiracy-Related Charges
A Buena Park conspiracy lawyer can also defend you against charges for conspiracy-related crimes: aiding and abetting, accessory after the fact, and gang-related activity. These crimes can bring additional charges and their associated penalties.
If you facilitate, instigate, or otherwise intentionally encourage the commission of a criminal act, you can be charged with aiding and abetting under California law.
If you are aware someone has executed a criminal act and you help the person cover the crime or hide from authorities, you can be charged with accessory after the fact under California law.
If you act, with awareness and intent, in a way that furthers or benefits gang activities, you can be charged with gang-related activity under California law.
Consult with a Buena Park Conspiracy Lawyer Today
If you have been charged with conspiracy, you need a lawyer whose skill set is well-honed and focused on conspiracy cases. Trust your case to an experienced Buena Park conspiracy lawyer who will mount a robust defense to reduce or dismiss your charges altogether.