A common misconception is that merely planning to commit a criminal act will not lead to arrest and prosecution. In reality, however, you may be charged with conspiracy for plotting to commit a crime with others. Conspiracy is a concept that may be invoked by the prosecution in order to hold individuals accountable for a crime, even when they may not have been involved with every element of the crime.
Whether you face conspiracy charges or have already been charged, it is imperative that you retain a knowledgeable conspiracy attorney who may represent your interests in your defense. At the Aron Law Firm, we possess the education, skill, and commitment necessary to offer you superior criminal defense representation in your conspiracy case.
Defining Criminal Conspiracy under California Law
California Penal Code Section 182 defines a conspiracy as an agreement between two or more persons to commit an unlawful act. To constitute a criminal conspiracy, one or more defendants must commit an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. An overt act in furtherance is a direct action taken by or on behalf of somebody involved in the conspiracy to facilitate the crime. The overt act must occur after the defendant has agreed to commit the crime.
Overt acts must go beyond agreeing to commit a crime or planning one, even if the actions are not themselves unlawful. Also, it is not necessary for an agreement to be written or formalized. Conspirators may have entered into such an agreement based on their conduct in committing the crime. In California, those who conspire to commit a crime don't need to know the identities or roles of their fellow members.
Potential Penalties for Conspiracy in California
Even if the crime wasn't committed, the penalties for conspiracy are often similar to those for the actual crime. California Penal Code 182 regulates the penalties for various conspiratorial conducts, including the following:
- Conspiracy to Commit Identity Theft: Depending on the specific facts of the case and any previous criminal record, this offense might be classified as a felony or misdemeanor. In the case of a misdemeanor conviction, the offender may face up to one year in county jail and a fine as high as $10,000. Felonies carry a maximum sentence of three years in county jail and a maximum fine of $25,000.
- Conspiracy to Commit to a Felony: A defendant may be punished according to the penalty associated with the underlying crime. Conspiring to commit more than one felony could result in punishment for the felony with the severest punishment.
- Conspiracy against a Government Official: A defendant who conspires to commit a crime against certain government officials may be charged with a felony, which carries a maximum sentence of nine years in jail.
- Conspiracy to Commit Murder: A defendant who conspires to commit murder may be sentenced in a manner and degree similar to someone charged with first-degree murder.
- Conspiracy to Commit a Violent Crime That Results in Death: Committing violent crimes that result in death is a first-degree murder felony punishable as such.
The conspiracy attorneys at the Aron Law Firm are well aware of the unfairness of conspiracy charges and the severity of the punishment a conviction may carry—often putting innocent or marginally involved parties at risk of serious criminal sanctions. To safeguard your freedom and future, begin working on your defense as soon as possible in order to minimize the impact of a conviction.
Is It Possible to Defend a California Conspiracy Charge?
No matter the circumstances surrounding your arrest, whether you were the subject of a search warrant or have been questioned by law enforcement, hiring a reputable criminal conspiracy attorney in San Luis Obispo may ensure that you are properly protected and defended. A conspiracy defense lawyer may raise a number of defenses on your behalf, which include:
- False Accusation: If multiple people are involved in planning or committing a crime, then false accusations may occur. Co-conspirators might accuse you of wrongdoing in an effort to avoid conviction or because they are angry or fearful.
- Lack of Overt Act: If the defense demonstrates that no overt acts were committed by any of the conspirators, conspiracy may not be deemed to have occurred. Until actions are taken to carry out a crime, it is not a crime.
- Withdrawal: If the defense proves that you had a real and fundamental disagreement with the conspiracy and shared your disapproval with the others before engaging in an overt act contributing to the offense, you may not be convicted of conspiracy.
- Lack of Agreement: If the defense establishes that there was no agreement prior to committing the crime, no conspiracy may be proven. In the same way, a prosecution that fails to show beyond a reasonable doubt that an agreement existed may not convict you of conspiracy.
- Mistake of Law: If the defense shows you had no intention of breaking the law and you believed that you were operating within legal boundaries, you may be able to escape conviction.
Throughout state and federal courts, the lawyers of the Aron Law Firm are respected for their strategic and meticulous approach to representing clients and their dedication to achieving positive case results. Additionally, conspiracy cases often include other criminal charges, which makes retaining a San Luis Obispo conspiracy attorney all the more important.
Retain Legal Counsel to Challenge Conspiracy Charges in San Luis Obispo
It may be challenging to navigate conspiracy charges, particularly when the charges relate to multiple offenses. When you hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to represent your case, you may increase your chance of a favorable outcome. If you face criminal conspiracy charges, an attorney with experience defending clients may have the knowledge and experience to prepare a strong defense.
Contact the criminal defense attorneys at the Aron Law Firm today to learn more about your defense options. Our legal team is committed to defending clients falsely accused of conspiracy and other criminal offenses in San Luis Obispo and will use every resource available to represent you effectively. Call (805) 618-1768 or complete our contact form to set up a consultation today.