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What to Know About Facing Federal Conspiracy Charges

Charging conspiracy is a powerful weapon in the arsenal of federal prosecutors. A conspiracy is defined as an agreement, express or implied, between two or more people to commit a crime. A conviction does not require that a person have committed the underlying crime. It is enough that he or she have performed an overt act that furthers the plan — even a legal act such as sending an email or making a purchase. This is why conspiracy is a comparatively easy crime for prosecutors to prove.

A conspiracy can encompass a wide range of criminal activity, from theft to drug trafficking. It is a federal crime whenever any interstate communication medium is used, such as mail, phones and the internet, or when the conspirators’ purpose is to commit fraud or another offense against the United States or any federal agency. Federal conspiracy convictions can lead to severe penalties, including lengthy prison sentences and substantial fines.

Facing federal conspiracy charges is a daunting prospect, but there are several defenses that individuals can pursue with the help of experienced legal counsel. They include the following:

  • Lack of Intent — Since intent is an element of conspiracy, it is a strong defense that the accused’s actions were not taken with the purpose to further a criminal plan.
  • No overt act — There must have been an act taken in furtherance of the plan to commit a crime. A defendant may be able to show that he or she committed no such act, or that any action taken was devoid of any criminal purpose.
  • Withdrawal — A defendant may be able to prove that they took affirmative steps to disassociate themselves from the criminal activity before any overt act was taken. This can mitigate the defendant’s culpability.
  • Mere presence — Being present at the scene of a crime or near co-conspirators does not necessarily establish conspiracy. There must be an intentional involvement shown.
  • Lack of knowledge — To be convicted of conspiracy, an individual must be aware of the conspiracy and its purpose.
  • Duress or coercion — An individual may have been forced or threatened into participating in the conspiracy and might be able to prove that they had no real choice.
  • Entrapment — This means showing that the defendant was induced into the conspiracy by law enforcement or by a government agent.

Each conspiracy case is unique and the success of a defense strategy will depend on the specific facts and circumstances. Conspiracy charges can be complex, but an experienced criminal attorney can provide an effective defense and exploit all weaknesses in the government’s case.

A federal conspiracy investigation can place you in severe jeopardy. To schedule a free consultation with Tylden Shaeffer, Attorney at Law, P.C., call (210) 227-1500 or contact us online today.

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