25 Sep 23

New York Penal Law 105.15: Conspiracy in the Second Degree

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Last Updated on: 26th September 2023, 10:35 pm

New York Penal Law 105.15: Conspiracy in the Second Degree

Conspiracy laws in New York can be pretty complicated, especially when you get into the different degrees of conspiracy charges. One of the more serious conspiracy charges is New York Penal Law 105.15, which covers conspiracy in the second degree. This article will break down what this law means, what the penalties are, and some key things to know if you’ve been charged.

What is Conspiracy in the Second Degree?

The basics of P.L. 105.15 are that it’s when someone intentionally agrees with at least one other person to commit a Class A felony. Some examples of Class A felonies are murder, kidnapping, arson, and robbery. So if someone plans with others to commit those types of serious crimes, they could be looking at a second-degree conspiracy charge.

To be convicted under this law, the prosecution has to prove a few things:

  • There was an agreement between the defendant and at least one other person to commit a Class A felony
  • The defendant intended for the Class A felony to be carried out
  • The defendant or the co-conspirators took some action to further the plan

It’s not enough to just talk about doing something illegal – for a conspiracy charge to stick, there needs to be evidence of steps taken to actually make it happen. But it also doesn’t matter if the planned crime never gets fully carried out. Just making concrete plans is enough.

Penalties and Sentencing

Conspiracy in the second degree is a Class B felony under New York law. The possible sentences if convicted include:

  • 5 to 25 years in state prison
  • Up to lifetime supervised release after prison
  • Up to $5,000 in fines

The judge has a lot of discretion in sentencing for second-degree conspiracy. The minimum is 5 years, but the maximum is 25 years. Factors like the defendant’s criminal history and the details of the case impact the sentence length. Prosecutors often try to get the longest sentences possible for P.L. 105.15 convictions because of the serious nature of the planned crimes.

Possible Defenses

There are a few common defenses that lawyers use to fight second-degree conspiracy charges, like:

  • No actual agreement – The prosecution has to prove the defendant agreed with others to commit a crime. Just discussing illegal acts isn’t enough. The defense may claim there was no real agreement.
  • Entrapment – This argues that the defendant only made plans due to pressure and manipulation by undercover cops or informants. Someone predisposed to commit a crime can’t claim entrapment.
  • Lack of intent – For a conspiracy charge to stick, the defendant has to have intended for the planned crime to be committed. The defense may claim the defendant made empty threats or didn’t seriously plan to go through with the crime.
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Having a skilled New York criminal defense lawyer argue one of these defenses can sometimes get conspiracy charges reduced or dismissed. But these cases often come down to the specific evidence and testimony, so solid legal representation is a must.

Recent Cases and Precedents

Looking at how P.L. 105.15 charges have played out in real cases can help give a sense of how serious these prosecutions are. Some notable recent examples include:

  • In People v. Williams, the defendant was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, along with other charges related to gang activity. He received a sentence of 15 years to life in prison (see People v. Williams).
  • In People v. Fernandez, the court upheld a conspiracy in the second degree conviction for a defendant who planned a home invasion robbery that resulted in murder. He received a sentence of 25 years to life (see People v. Fernandez).
  • In People v. Alston, the court overturned a 105.15 conviction because the prosecution failed to prove the defendant entered into any actual agreement to sell drugs. Mere discussions about drug transactions were not enough (see People v. Alston).

These cases highlight how prosecutors often seek very lengthy prison sentences for P.L. 105.15 convictions. But they also show that getting charges dismissed or overturned on appeal is possible in some instances with a strong defense.

Why These Charges Are Taken So Seriously

There are a few reasons why second-degree conspiracy charges are treated as such serious offenses under New York criminal law:

  • Class A felonies like murder and arson are extremely dangerous crimes that put many innocent people at risk.
  • Even if the planned crime doesn’t happen, the intent was still there and steps were taken. This makes the defendants dangerous in the eyes of the law.
  • Prosecutors and judges want to send a message that conspiring to commit terrible felonies will bring severe punishment.
  • Harsh sentences are seen as justified to deter others from planning violent group crimes and to incapacitate those who try.

The bottom line is that these types of conspiracy charges are meant to root out and severely punish those who would work together to commit egregious felonies, even if their plots fail. The long sentences handed down in many P.L. 105.15 cases reflect how seriously New York courts take these crimes.

What to Do If You’re Facing Charges

If you’ve been accused of conspiracy in the second degree under Penal Law 105.15, it’s absolutely vital that you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The charges are extremely serious, and you need legal guidance to help build the strongest case.

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A lawyer can evaluate the evidence against you, identify any police missteps or weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, advise you on possible defenses, and represent you aggressively through the legal process. This gives you the best chance at an acquittal or at least reduced charges and a lighter sentence. Don’t leave your fate to chance – get a lawyer on your side without delay.