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Conspiracy Charges in Florida: Laws and Penalties Explained

Conspiracy Charges in Florida: Laws and Penalties Explained

Conspiracy charges in Florida can range from misdemeanors to first-degree felonies, with penalties depending on the underlying crime. This article provides an overview of conspiracy laws in Florida, penalties defendants may face, and potential defenses.

What is Criminal Conspiracy Under Florida Law?

In Florida, criminal conspiracy involves two or more people planning to commit a crime together. The key elements of a conspiracy charge are:

  • An agreement between two or more people to commit a crime
  • An intention to commit the crime
  • At least one overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy

The agreement does not need to be formal or explicit. A “tacit” understanding between co-conspirators is enough. Additionally, each member of the conspiracy does not need to know all the details or participate in every act.

Florida’s conspiracy statute is broad, allowing prosecutors to charge conspiracy for planning any felony or misdemeanor offense.

Penalties for Conspiracy Charges

Penalties for conspiracy depend on the crime the defendants allegedly conspired to commit:

  • If the target offense is a first-degree felony (like murder), conspiracy is a second-degree felony
  • If the target crime is a second-degree felony (like robbery), conspiracy is a third-degree felony
  • If the target crime is a third-degree felony, conspiracy remains a third-degree felony
  • If the target offense is a misdemeanor, conspiracy is a second-degree misdemeanor

So while conspiracy penalties are generally one level below the target crime, they can still be severe. For example:

  • A second-degree felony carries up to 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines
  • A third-degree felony carries up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines
  • A first-degree misdemeanor carries up to 1 year in jail and $1,000 in fines

In addition to incarceration, those convicted may face probation, restitution, and loss of civil rights. Immigration consequences are also possible for non-citizens.

Types of Conspiracy Charges in Florida

While Florida’s conspiracy statute allows charges for planning any crime, common conspiracy allegations include:

Drug conspiracies: Conspiring to sell, distribute, traffic, manufacture, or possess illegal drugs at the felony level. Penalties depend on the type and quantity of drugs.

Property conspiracies: Conspiring to commit burglary, theft, robbery, fraud, forgery, or extortion involving property.

Violent conspiracies: Conspiring to commit murder, kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated stalking, or other violent felonies against a person.

Financial conspiracies: Conspiring to commit complex financial crimes like embezzlement, money laundering, insurance fraud, mortgage fraud, or racketeering.

Sex conspiracies: Conspiring to commit sexual battery, produce or distribute child pornography, engage in prostitution or human trafficking, or commit other sex offenses.

Weapon conspiracies: Conspiring to illegally manufacture, sell, distribute, transport, conceal, or use firearms, explosives, chemical weapons, or other dangerous weapons.

Terrorism conspiracies: Conspiring to plan or assist with acts of terrorism.Prosecutors may pile on multiple conspiracy charges for planning different offenses as part of the same alleged criminal scheme.

Proving Criminal Conspiracy

To convict someone of conspiracy in Florida, prosecutors must prove:

  • An express or implied agreement between two or more people to commit a specific crime
  • The defendants intended to commit that crime
  • At least one overt act was taken to advance the conspiracy

Agreement: The state can use circumstantial evidence about relationships, communications, conduct, statements, and actions to argue an agreement existed.

Intent: Prosecutors may use the circumstances, defendants’ words and actions, prior history, etc. to show intent.

Overt act: An overt act is any step taken to advance the conspiracy, no matter how small. An overt act does not actually have to be illegal itself.

Police often go undercover or get informants to secretly record conversations as evidence of conspiracies. But many conspiracy cases also rely heavily on testimony from co-conspirators who cooperate for reduced charges.

Defenses Against Conspiracy Charges

Some possible defenses against conspiracy allegations include:

No actual agreement: Argue the defendants did not actually reach an agreement, and discussions were just “talk.”

Entrapment: Argue police or informants improperly induced the conspiracy.

Misidentification: Argue the defendant was not actually involved in the conspiracy.

Duress: Argue the defendant only participated under threat of harm.

Voluntary abandonment: Argue the defendant voluntarily withdrew from the conspiracy before an overt act was committed.An experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate the prosecution’s evidence and identify defenses to explore. The attorney can also negotiate for reduced charges or sentences.

Getting Legal Help for Conspiracy Charges

In Florida, conspiracy charges should always be taken seriously given the broad scope of the law and potentially severe penalties. Anyone under investigation or arrested for conspiracy should consult a criminal defense lawyer right away.

A skilled attorney can carefully examine the case and advise the best options moving forward. Depending on the circumstances, the lawyer may recommend negotiating a plea deal, defending at trial, or asserting affirmative defenses. They can also help mitigate penalties upon conviction.

With an experienced legal advocate on your side, you can better understand the charges against you and make informed decisions protecting your future. Don’t hesitate to call a criminal defense firm for a free case evaluation.


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