Conspiracy and racketeering charges are typically filed on the federal level, but more and more often, prosecutors in California are using the conspiracy statute under Penal Code § 182 PC to convict multiple people for involvement in a crime, even if the crime was never actually carried out. Conspiracy is a broad criminal offense that can apply to any number of scenarios involving illegal acts or agreement to commit such acts, and simply deciding to commit a crime with another person can expose you to conspiracy and other criminal charges if that person commits the crime or even takes steps to commit the crime. A conspiracy conviction can carry harsh penalties adversely affecting the rest of your life, depending on the crime you are accused of conspiring to commit. If you are facing criminal charges for conspiracy in Los Angeles, don’t hesitate to obtain qualified legal representation. Our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles has extensive experience defending clients against criminal offenses, like conspiracy, and will work tirelessly to help you fight these charges.
Affordable Conspiracy Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
Conspiracy to commit a crime may not seem like a very serious offense, but if the crime you allegedly conspired to commit was serious, you could find yourself facing jail time and significant fines, among other life-changing criminal penalties. If you hire our criminal defense attorneys to represent your case, we will investigate the alleged crime and compile as much evidence as possible to cast doubt on your guilt in the eyes of the court. Depending on the circumstances of your case, we may even be able to have your charges reduced to a lesser offense or dismissed altogether. Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles is committed to defending your rights to the fullest extent and can help you get the best possible outcome in your criminal conspiracy case. Contact our law firm today for a free initial consultation.
Conspiracy is a crime involving two or more people who agree to commit a crime and take some type of action towards complete the crime. Originally adopted by the federal government and individual states to allow prosecutors to pursue charges against organized crime and other large-scale criminal enterprises, conspiracy statutes are now used by criminal prosecutors to convict gang members and individuals involved in theft, drug crimes and other offenses. Under Penal Code § 182 PC, you can be charged with misdemeanor or felony criminal conspiracy if:
- You agree with one or more other people to commit an illegal act;
- You intend that the crime will actually be committed;
- At least one of the members of the group commits an overt act in furtherance of the crime; and
- The overt act takes place after you have agreed to commit the crime.
For a conspiracy to occur, one member of the group must take steps to further the agreed-upon crime, and this is what elevates an otherwise legal act to criminal conspiracy, regardless of whether the so-called overt act is a crime in and of itself. Under Penal Code § 182 PC, an “overt act” is an act that is done to help the group accomplish the agreed-upon crime. For example, if a group of people conspire to commit insurance fraud by agreeing to burn down a commercial building, purchasing the gasoline, which itself is a legal activity, would be considered an “overt act” in furtherance of the crime that could result in conspiracy charges.
Another example of conspiracy would be if a man agrees to help a group of friends commit burglary and rents a hotel room nearby the crime that the group can use as a home base. Even though the man does not commit the burglary himself, he could be prosecuted for criminal conspiracy, since he entered into the agreement and, by renting the hotel room, committed an overt act in furtherance of the crime. Even making a phone call or buying a tool could be considered an overt act in connection with criminal conspiracy, if that act would help the group complete the crime. The overt act requirement ensures that people aren’t wrongfully charged with conspiracy simply because they agreed to or planned a crime, without ever having any intention of following through with committing the crime.
Conviction for Conspiracy Penal Code § 182
Under Penal Code § 182 PC, criminal conspiracy is a separate offense from the agreed-upon crime itself, and an individual being investigated for conspiracy can be charged with conspiracy to commit an illegal act, committing the illegal act itself, or both. It is important to note that you can be charged with and convicted of criminal conspiracy even if the crime is never actually committed, so long as you or one of your co-conspirators committed an overt act in furtherance of the crime. In fact, it is not even necessary that you are present and active at every phase of the illegal activity, or even that you knew all of the details of the crime. If you agreed to participate in or further the plan in any way, you can be charged with criminal conspiracy. However, in order to get a conspiracy conviction in Los Angeles, it is up to the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of each element of the crime as described above. If he or she is unable to do so, you cannot be convicted of criminal conspiracy. Some crimes related to, but distinct from, conspiracy include Penal Code § 31 PC aiding and abetting, Penal Code § 32 PC accessory after the fact, and Penal Code § 186.22 PC gang-related activity.
Penalties for a Conspiracy Conviction
Under Penal Code § 182 PC, conspiracy is a “wobbler,” which means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense, a decision that is at the discretion of the prosecutor. In most cases, the penalty for a conspiracy conviction in Los Angeles is the same as it would be for the crime you allegedly conspired to commit, which means the more serious the underlying offense, the more severe the criminal penalties will be for a conviction on conspiracy charges. In most cases, if you conspired to commit a crime that is considered a misdemeanor offense, you could face misdemeanor charges related to the offense. If, however, your conduct was particularly serious or harmful, you could be charged with felony conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor crime. If, on the other hand, you conspired to commit a felony, you could face the penalties associated with the felony offense. If you are charged with conspiracy to commit several crimes, the penalties you face will be based on the most serious of the crimes you conspired to commit.
Defenses to Conspiracy Charges
Defending yourself against criminal conspiracy charges in Los Angeles can be tricky, especially because it doesn’t matter if the crime you allegedly conspired to commit was actually carried out or not. If you and another person agree to commit a crime and the other person commits the crime or takes some sort of action towards the completion of the crime, you may find yourself charged with conspiracy. Fortunately, there are a number of possible defenses for criminal conspiracy cases, and with an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side, you can determine which defense strategy will cast even the tiniest bit of doubt on your guilt. Some possible defenses a criminal defense attorney could use to combat your conspiracy charges include the following:
- No valid agreement to commit a crime existed
- No overt act was taken in furtherance of the crime
- There was no true intent for the crime to be committed
- You effectively and clearly withdrew from the conspiracy
- You were falsely accused
- A lack of physical evidence
- There was no violation of the law
- You are married to your co-conspirator
- Your Constitutional rights have been violated
Hiring an Experienced Conspiracy Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
Criminal conspiracy cases can be confusing and complex, especially if there are several defendants facing conspiracy charges at once or if you are charged with conspiracy to commit several crimes, and it can significantly improve your chances of a favorable outcome at trial if you hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to represent your case. An attorney with experience defending clients against criminal conspiracy charges will have the skills and tools necessary to help you build a strong defense in your case and can be a valuable resource in court, making sure you understand the criminal charges you face and your rights under California law. If you have been charged with conspiracy under California Penal Code § 182 PC, contact Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today to discuss some possible strategies for your defense. Our lawyers are committed to defending clients wrongfully accused of conspiracy and other criminal offenses and will aggressively advocate on your behalf.