Facing a Federal Conspiracy Crime? South Florida Federal Attorney Talks Conspiracy Crime Penalties if Convicted

One of the scariest parts about being charged with a federal conspiracy crime is that you can be charged with the crime even if you didn’t act on it. All it takes is a simple discussion with the intent to commit a federal crime. 

If you are facing a federal conspiracy charge, reach out to Rossen Law Firm so we can help you protect your rights and future. 

Federal Conspiracy Charges Explained

Two Men are pictured shaking hands at the bottom of a staircase, the men have just conspired to commit a federal crime

To commit a federal conspiracy crime the following two elements must be met:

  1. You and one or more people intentionally make an agreement to commit a specific federal crime; and
  2. At least one of you makes an overt act to further the conspiracy.

You can still be convicted of conspiracy even if the actual crime never happened.

For example, Jack and Jill plan to rob a jewelry store. They first go to the jewelry store to scope out the security. Then they purchase masks and two guns. Both Jack and Jill can be charged with a conspiracy to rob a jewelry store even though they didn’t actually commit the robbery. The fact that they made an agreement to commit the crime, and took an action in line with preparing to commit that crime - buying guns and masks - is enough evidence to lead to a conviction of a federal conspiracy crime.

The Agreement: An Element of a Federal Conspiracy Crime

The agreement does not have to be as formal as saying "yes, I agree to rob a jewelry store with you." The agreement can be implied by other circumstances, such as going to scope out the jewelry store together or purchasing the guns together.

Intent: An Element of a Federal Conspiracy Crime

A person's intent is key, however, as courts will also look at the mental state of the people involved in the crime. 

Everyone must intend to agree to commit the crime, and all must intend to reach the outcome. The mere association with someone does not make you a co-conspirator. If Jack told Jill he was going to rob the jewelry store and Jill never participated in planning or committing the crime, she would not be considered a co-conspirator even if Jack went to buy the guns, or even if Jack even truly did rob the jewelry store.

Overt Act: An Element of a Federal Conspiracy Crime

In most jurisdictions, at least one person involved in the conspiracy must make some step in furtherance of the plan. 

In the example above Jack and Jill scoped out the jewelry store, therefore, meeting the overt act requirement. However, if Jack and Jill just discussed robbing the jewelry store and then did nothing, then there would be no conspiracy charge available. But let’s say Jack and Jill both agreed to rob the store, and then only Jill went to buy guns and masks - Jack could also still be found guilty of conspiring to commit the crime because one of the people took a step toward committing the crime.

Penalties for Conspiring to Commit a Federal Crime

Under 18 U.S.C. § 371, you can be sentenced up to 5 years in prison, plus a fine up to $250,000 (not more than $500,000 for organizations) for a felony conspiracy offense. 

However, there are certain conspiracy crimes such as drug trafficking, terrorism, racketeering, and certain white collar crimes that face the same penalties as if the underlying offense was committed. 

Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud 

Federal Mail Fraud is when you use the United States mail system as a vehicle to lure people to give you their money, their belongings, or their property by misrepresentation, concealment, or false statements. For example: fake job opportunities and pyramid schemes. 

Mail Fraud is typically a federal level conspiracy. This means that if you are convicted of federal conspiracy to commit wire and/or mail fraud, you face a much harder punishment. You could be required to spend 20 years in prison and pay a fine up to $250,000.

Conspiracy to Traffic Marijuna

To be considered trafficking marijuna, the amount in question is key. Generally to be charged with trafficking marijuna the following must occur, selling, distributing, importing, exporting, manufacturing, growing, delivering, or dispensing marijuna. 

When dealing with marijuna there needs to be an alleged amount, without a specific quantity, there is no mandatory minimum sentence, but there is a maximum of 20 years. However, if you have 100 kilograms or more of marijuna, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years and a maximum of 40 years. As the amount increases to 1,000 kilograms or more, the mandatory minimum sentence increases to 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. 

Joining an On-Going Conspiracy Can still Result in Federal Conspiracy Charges Against You 

The law does allow a person to join an on-going conspiracy. If a person joins in on the criminal agreement later on, they are typically called a ‘late joiner’. If you join an on-going conspiracy and an overt act has already occurred, another one does not need to occur for you to be considered a co-conspirator. You only need to meet the first element and intentionally agree to be a part of the conspiracy. A late joiner can be held criminally liable for the conspiracy and any foreseeable acts done by any of the co-conspirators. However, a late joiner cannot be held liable for any acts committed prior to him joining the conspiracy. 

Withdrawing from the Conspiracy Crime 

You are able to withdraw from an on-going conspiracy, however, it requires more than simply just no longer participating. To withdraw from a Conspiracy, there are two requirements that must be met, 

  1. You must do some affirmative act inconsistent with the goals of the Conspiracy; and 
  2. You must reasonably communicate your withdrawal from the Conspiracy to a fellow co-conspirator or to law enforcement.  

Withdrawal is an affirmative defense that your lawyer must raise and bears the burden of proof.  

Charged with a Federal Conspiracy Crime? Our Fort Lauderdale Federal Defense Attorneys Can Help You Achieve Your Best Future

If you are facing a Federal Conspiracy Charge, it is time to get yourself a lawyer. Contact Rossen Law Firm today, we can help defend you and your rights.

Free Federal Conspiracy Defense Strategy Session in South Florida  

Our firm handles all kinds of cases, including conspiracy cases of all sorts for people in South Florida. If you’re looking for a defense attorney to help fight your case. You’re in the right place. We care about your future and will truly do everything possible for you to move forward in the best way for your life, future and rights.  We ensure you’ll be given every chance possible in the legal system. 

We offer FREE strategy sessions so you know how we’ll work to get the best possible result on your case for you. Schedule one today. 

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