If you are facing conspiracy charges in California, do not delay in consulting with a Costa Mesa conspiracy lawyer. Conspiracy charges can bring serious penalties. An experienced conspiracy lawyer will give you sound legal representation and work to lessen or dismiss the charges against you.
What Is Conspiracy?
In California, when two or more people plan to commit an illegal act and act on that plan, they can be charged with conspiracy. California Penal Code §182 includes several subsections further describing the nature of various criminal conspiracies. Three specific components must be met in order for a conspiracy charge to stand: agreement, intent, and commission of overt action.
- Agreement: You and at least one other person (co-conspirators) agree to commit a crime.
- Intention: You and your co-conspirators intend to fulfill the goal of the agreement and intend to carry out the crime.
- Commission of an overt action: At least one conspirator commits an overt act to further the goal of committing the crime.
Overt Action Defined
An overt action does not have to be an illegal act. It is simply an action that helps accomplish the crime the conspirators have planned. Requiring the commission of an overt act to prove conspiracy is a way for courts to ensure it takes more than careless or exaggerated words to charge a person with conspiracy.
If a group of conspirators plans to commit arson, the purchase of an accelerant, such as gasoline, is an overt act even though buying gasoline is not a crime in itself. An act as simple as a phone call, if done to further the commission of the crime and occurring after the conspirators have agreed to and planned the crime, is an overt act.
You can be charged with conspiracy even if you are not the one who performs the overt action. The fact that any one of the co-conspirators did so is enough to charge all members of the group with conspiracy.
For a free legal consultation with a conspiracy lawyer serving Costa Mesa, call (310) 896-2723
Examples of Conspiracy
Conspiracy can take a variety of forms. As long as there is more than one person involved and they agree to the crime, share intent, and commit an overt action, their criminal behavior is conspiratorial. For example,
- Three people agree to rob a liquor store. One of them buys a gun to use in the act. They carry out the robbery but are ultimately caught. They can be charged with conspiracy to commit robbery.
- Two owners of a failing restaurant agree to burn the business down to collect insurance money. One of them conducts research investigating how to make the fire appear unsuspicious. They could be charged with conspiracy to commit fraud.
- Members of a gang agree to murder someone they feel has disrespected their gang. One person calls the target with an excuse to lure that person to a secluded area where the murder will occur. They could be charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
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How Conspiracy Charges Work
You do not have to successfully carry out the planned crime to be charged with conspiracy. You can be charged with conspiracy under any of these scenarios:
- You and your co-conspirators agree to commit a crime and intend to carry it out. One conspirator actually commits the crime.
- You and your co-conspirators agree, with intent, to commit a crime, and at least one conspirator performs an overt action to further the progress of the criminal endeavor.
- You and your co-conspirators agree, with intent, to commit a crime and successfully commit that crime.
Misdemeanor or Felony Charges
Depending on what crime you were conspiring to commit, conspiracy can be either a misdemeanor or felony offense. The degree of the penalty relates to the seriousness of that underlying offense.
For an underlying misdemeanor offense, you will generally face charges relevant to that misdemeanor. However, if your offense is especially severe or harmful, you may face felony charges for that misdemeanor offense. These cases are known as wobblers.
For an underlying felony offense, you will likely face the same punishment that the offense carries. If you have conspired to commit multiple felonies, you will probably receive a sentence for the most serious offense.
Crimes Related to Conspiracy
In California, there are crimes related to conspiracy. Depending on your alleged crime and situation, you may face these related additional charges, which carry their own penalties.
- According to Penal Code 31 PC, you can be charged with aiding and abetting if you advise, facilitate, promote, or otherwise intentionally encourage a criminal.
- According to Penal Code 32 PC, you can be charged with accessory after the fact if you know a person has committed a crime and you help that person avoid arrest or punishment, whether by harboring them or helping to conceal the crime.
- According to Penal Code 186.22, you can be charged with gang-related activity if you knowingly and intentionally act in a way that benefits the gang.
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How Your Costa Mesa Conspiracy Attorney Can Defend You
A skilled conspiracy lawyer in Costa Mesa understands how conspiracy laws work and what the prosecution must do to prove conspiracy. Based on that knowledge and the specifics of your case, your lawyer may use any of the following defenses:
- There was no actual agreement to commit a crime.
- There was no actual intent to commit a crime.
- None of the accused committed an overt action to further the crime.
- You communicated your withdrawal from the conspiracy before the commission of an overt act.
- You have been falsely accused, perhaps by a codefendant seeking to diminish their own culpability.
- Your co-conspirator is your spouse.
- Your Constitutional rights have been violated.
Contact a Conspiracy Attorney in Costa Mesa
If you are facing conspiracy charges in California, you need legal representation from an experienced conspiracy lawyer. Convictions of conspiracy charges can bring significant, even lifelong sentences and consequences. A Costa Mesa conspiracy lawyer will investigate your case thoroughly.
Using that information along with their expert knowledge of conspiracy law, your lawyer will mount a vigorous defense, working to have your charges reduced or dismissed.