Federal Conspiracy Charges
What is a Federal Conspiracy?
If you’ve been charged federally, chances are that the Feds are going to hit you with a Federal Conspiracy charge. It is, without a doubt, federal prosecutors' greatest weapon, because what constitutes a Conspiracy is so broad and, for the Government, relatively easy to “prove up.”
A conspiracy to commit a federal crime happens whenever there is an agreement to commit a specific federal crime between two or more people, and at least one of those people makes some overt act to further the conspiracy.
Simply put, it’s an agreement to do a crime, plus some action by one or more of the participants in the agreement to make it happen. The Government doesn’t have to prove that there was a written agreement between the co-conspirators — rather, the prosecutor can prove a conspiracy just by proving that the people it says were involved
in the conspiracy were working together to do some crime.
18 U.S.C. § 371
The general federal conspiracy statute is 18 U.S.C. § 371. This statute criminalizes both conspiracies to defraud the United States as well as conspiracies to violate any other provision of federal law. 18 U.S.C. § 371 defines a conspiracy “when, if two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy.”
The United States Code contains other specific conspiracy provisions. For example, 21
U.S.C. § 846 makes it illegal to commit a conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, or
possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. 18 U.S.C. § 1951, which
prohibits committing a robbery of any article in interstate commerce, contains its own
conspiracy provision. So section 1951 makes it a crime both to commit a robbery and to
conspire to commit a robbery.
Courts have held that a person can be in a conspiracy with another person, even if the
two people never meet or interact — so long as they knew the other person was doing
something to further the conspiracy.
There is hope
If you or a loved one is arrested and charged with a Federal Conspiracy crime, please
call our 24-hour telephone number 305-461-1066 to set up an appointment and free
consultation so we can assess your particular case and provide you with the best legal
advice on how to best proceed.
Stop worrying. I can help. I want to hear your side of the story.
If an accused person did nothing to further the conspiracy, however, ambiguity about whether the defendant actually joined the conspiracy can provide the defendant with a
In some cases, it is possible to argue that the defendant withdrew from the conspiracy before the conspiracy engaged in a criminal act. That defense is more common in conspiracies that do not involve drug crimes (like a conspiracy to rob a bank), but it sometimes provides the basis for a defense against a drug conspiracy charge.
If the defendant knew about the conspiracy or was present when the conspiracy was discussed but did not join it, the defendant did not commit a crime.
Mere association (or “mere presence”) with members of a conspiracy is not a crime. Merely knowing that someone else plans to commit a crime is not a crime. Again, the ambiguous nature of the Government’s proof of membership in a conspiracy can provide a defense against drug conspiracy charges, for example.