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Federal Conspiracy Charges Defense Attorney

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized

Federal Conspiracy: Understanding the Charges and Defenses

Federal prosecutors are often faced with a challenging prospect in difficult cases where they lack solid evidence. One favorite tool for some federal prosecutors to use to maximize sentencing or win a case is to charge someone with federal conspiracy. Federal conspiracy is a broad term used to describe crimes that were planned, but may or may have been committed. A federal conspiracy charge allows the government to indict a large number of people connected to one or more crimes.

What is Federal Conspiracy?

Federal conspiracy is defined under the statute 18 USC 371. The statute makes planning to commit a federal crime illegal. This doesn’t mean you are charged with federal conspiracy because you committed a crime. It means that you worked with other people to conspire to commit a federal crime.

According to the statute, it is illegal for more than two people to plan to commit a federal crime or defraud the federal government. Also, you or a co-conspirator must go a step further in the planning of the federal crime. This means they try to make the crime happen. The federal government cause this an overt act.

A Federal Prosecutor Must Prove Conspiracy Occurred

A federal prosecutor isn’t required to prove you or a co-conspirator committed a federal crime. They aren’t required to show that you took an overt step to make the crime reality. Another thing a federal prosecutor isn’t obligated to prove is that you and any alleged co-conspirator had a written or oral agreement to commit a federal crime.

Here is what a federal prosecutor is required to prove to convict you on federal conspiracy charges:

  • You entered into an agreement with one or more persons.
  • That agreement was to commit a federal crime or defraud the government.
  • A co-conspirator to a step to initiate the plan. That initial step was an overt step to commit a federal crime or defraud the government.

In the second element, where a prosecutor must prove the intent to commit a federal crime, the prosecutor explains the crime. There are many common conspiracy crimes such as:

  • Racketeering
  • Fraud
  • Restrain trade
  • Federal health care offense
  • Submit one or more fraudulent claims to a federal agency
  • Seditious conspiracy
  • Deprive a person of their civil rights
  • Drug trafficking

Sentencing Guidelines for a Federal Conspiracy Conviction

Federal conspiracy has specific punishments. These penalties are found in the sentencing guidelines. These guidelines determine the minimum and maximum imprisonment a person faces if they are convicted of federal conspiracy.

  • Criminal penalty outlined under 18 USC 371. This is five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine or both penalties.
  • Criminal penalty for the underlying offense. The term “underlying offense” refers to the crime you did or planned to commit. Thus, the sentence depends on the crime.
  • Criminal penalty for misdemeanor offense. If the federal crime or attempt to defraud the government was a misdemeanor offense, you can’t be sentenced to more time that outline in that statute.

The judge could seize your property under forfeiture laws. Another option is to order you to pay restitution.

Defenses to Federal Conspiracy Charges

It may not seem like it, but there are a lot of federal conspiracy defenses. The specific defense used in your case will depend on facts and evidence. One common defense includes withdrawal of the federal conspiracy. This means that you did participate, but you changed your mind and took steps to withdraw from the conspiracy. Other defenses include attacking the elements of the case and innocence.

Contact Our Law Offices for Help with Your Federal Conspiracy Case

Federal conspiracy may seem like a simple case to win without getting legal help because a federal prosecutor has no case. There was no verbal or written agreement. Besides, you’re completely innocent. However, a federal conspiracy case isn’t always as simple. You may be innocent, but the prosecutors will work hard to convince a jury you’re guilty.

Whether you are suspected of or officially indicted on federal charges, contact our law offices. We are experienced in fighting federal conspiracy charges. We understand how to challenge the prosecutor’s evidence at trial and get the case dismissed. Contact us today.

Federal Conspiracy Charges

On the local level, conspiracy occurs when two or more individuals plan to commit a crime. That crime could be anything from murder to fraud. A person can go to state prison for committing conspiracy whether the crime actually happened or not. However, the federal government also its own conspiracy statutes. It’s outlined in 18 USC 371.

Title 18 USC 371 Makes it Illegal to Conspire to Plan a Federal Crime

According to 18 USC 371, it’s a crime for two or more people to conspire to plan to commit a federal crime. The statute doesn’t include one specific crime. Instead, it outlines the two broad categories of crimes that one can be accused of conspiring to commit. The categories include any offenses committed against the federal government and crimes to defraud the federal government.

The statute also includes the requirement that at least one person conspiring to commit the alleged federal crime takes an overt step to put the plan in motion. This means that you or one of your alleged co-conspirators tried or actually did act to further the conspiracy.

A federal conspiracy charge can sometimes involve circumstantial evidence or an alleged co-conspirator lying on you for a lighter sentence. If you or a loved one is accused of conspiracy to commit a federal crime, obtain legal counsel pronto.

A Federal Conspiracy Charge doesn’t Require a Written Agreement

The federal government doesn’t need any type of written agreement as proof that you and one or more co-conspirator conspired to defraud or commit a crime. In fact, a prosecutor isn’t required to show you and any alleged co-conspirators met in person or interacted when planning the federal crime.

Instead, a federal prosecutor is required to show you are guilty beyond all reasonable doubt with evidence that support specific elements. These elements are grouped together to define the federal conspiracy charge. Thus, a federal prosecutor must have evidence to support the elements that:

• You and two or more people conspired together.
• The conspiracy was to defraud the government or commit a federal crime.
• You or a fellow co-conspirator took an overt step to make the plan reality.

The Type of Crimes that Result in a Conspiracy Charge

Federal conspiracy charge is the start of something much worse: a subsequent federal charge. This means that in order to conspire with two or more people, you had the intent to commit an actual crime. Otherwise, there would be no conspiracy. The subsequent charge must be a federal crime. It can’t be a state or local crime. The types of federal crimes that would result from conspiracy charge are:

• Any fraud crime
• Restraining trade
• Health care offense
• Violating RICO
• Depriving an individual of their civil rights
• Submitting any fraudulent claim
• Seditious conspiracy
• Violating the Controlled Substances Act (21 USC 841)
• Any offense or attempt to defraud the government not listed

Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Violating 18 USC 371

The federal government has sentencing guidelines a judge must impose on anyone guilty of federal conspiracy. These sentencing guidelines are used to determine the maximum and minimum about of time a person may receive behind bars.

If you or your loved one is convicted of federal conspiracy, this is what you face:

Zero to five years in federal prison for violating Section 371. If you receive no time in federal prison, you may only pay a $250,000 fine. However, the judge can order federal prison time and a fine.
The criminal sentence associated with the underlying crime. Certain crimes such as racketeering, drug trafficking and terrorism require you receive the sentence associated with that crime. This is often more than five years in federal prison. This means that even if you did not commit the underlying crime, you’re punished as though you did it.
Zero to one year in jail. If the federal crime was a misdemeanor, you would receive a misdemeanor sentence. Thus, no prison time. Instead, you may receive one year or less in jail.

We are Your Federal Conspiracy Defense Lawyers

You’ve been accused of federal conspiracy. Now, it’s time to fight the charge. You have specific defenses available such as proving you did not conspire to commit a federal crime, or you changed your mind. Contact us to discuss your conspiracy charge.

Federal conspiracy is a term used to describe several types of illegal acts conspired against the government. Federal conspiracy often involves two or more people. Conspiracy charges are complicated. While most people believe that they are only guilty of a crime they actually committed, this notion does not apply in federal conspiracy cases. The reality is that you can be charged for making plans to violate the law.

Types of Federal Conspiracy Charges and the Laws Applied

18 U.S. Code Section 371

The federal statute gives a guideline on what constitutes a federal conspiracy. Under the federal statute, conspiring to defraud the US is a criminal act. Under this statute, if two or more people conspire with the intention to commit an offense against the federal state, or any of its agencies, and one or more persons effects the plans, then these are guilty of a federal criminal act, and they all stand to face a prison sentence and a fine. The maximum prison sentence for such an offense is five years.

If the offense carried out is a misdemeanor, then the punishment shall not exceed the maximum penalty provided for such a charge. There are several noteworthy elements under this statute. The most apparent one is that a conspiracy must involve two or more persons. A conspiracy cannot be carried out by one person. The second key element is that there must be a plan to commit a federal crime and at least one person must carry out the plan.

Federal conspiracy charges are not made against federal agents, confidential informants or law enforcement informers. Conspiracy charges are applicable in a variety of cases. This is anything that two or more people can conspire to commit against the state. The most common charges include conspiracy to commit white collar crimes, drug trafficking and fraud.

18 U.S. Code section 372

Under this statute, conspirators are charged if they conspire to injure or impede an officer. For instance, if two or more persons make a plan to impede a person from holding or accepting an office, then they can be charged. The crime may be carried out in the form of force, threats or intimidation. Again, two or more people must conspire to commit these acts. The charge, however, holds even if it was only one of them who committed the act.

Are You Facing a Federal Conspiracy Charge?

If you are charged with committing a federal conspiracy crime, you will be dealing with a government agency such as DEA, SEC or the FBI. These officers are trained to carry out thorough interrogations. They can also be intimidating. You need an aggressive defense lawyer to help you navigate the legal process. The lawyer should be present in any meeting or interrogation. They will advise you on what to say to avoid incriminating yourself.

Penalties for Conspiracy Convictions

The sentencing for such cases often involves severe punishments. This is depending on the nature of the crimes committed. If you are charged with a felony, then you could face a life imprisonment sentence. Conspiracy charges can also include prison sentences ranging from 5 to twenty years. The prosecutor may reduce these charges if one of the conspirators agrees to testify against the co-defendants. There are other mitigating factors such as lack of criminal history and if the person confessed of the crime before they were arrested. The lawyer can use these factors to negotiate for a lighter sentence.

Seek Legal Assistance from A criminal Defense Lawyer

The defense used in federal conspiracy cases differs from defending other state crimes. Federal conspiracy cases are treated seriously. The prosecution also goes a long way in ensuring that they have a watertight case. In fact, a prosecutor will not attempt to try a case if they lack sufficient evidence to prosecute the conspirators.

One of the best defenses you can have is working with an experienced legal team. Do not attempt to defend yourself in such cases. You need a lawyer who understands federal legal procedures and the sentencing guidelines. The lawyer will work to have the charges thrown out or reduced. They will also advise you on the best course of action based on the merits of your case.

Overview of Federal Conspiracy Article

Federal Conspiracy Statutes

There are actually quite a few different federal statutes relating to conspiracy. The type of statute actually depends on the nature of the conspiracy that is alleged to have been committed. Conspiracy is typically viewed as a criminal case that is white-collar in nature. The charges are brought forth in federal court, and the statute will serve to define the charge that has been issued against that accused. If you find yourself in this situation, the government has to prove you committed the specific type of conspiracy that it alleges in the complaint. This gives you a glimpse into the type of white collar crime that they are going to try you for in federal court.

Specific Statutes

It helps to know what some of the more commonly cited federal conspiracy statutes are so that you can be prepared. There are also others depending on the specific nature of the case, but this will give you a good start.

Conspiracy to Defraud America or Commit an Offense Against the United States

This statute is referred to as 18 U.S. Code 371. This involves two or more people who openly conspire to commit some type of offense against America. They could also be defrauding the United States in some way no matter with the purpose or intent. If one or more of the people commit any action to, in essence, evoke the object of the conspiracy itself, then all people involved will be fined under the statute. Prison time of up to five years is a possibility as well.

There is also a provision under this statute where the offense of the crime may be such that the subject of the conspiracy is only a misdemeanor. If that is the case, the possible punishment is less severe. The penalty will not be more than the maximum sentence permitted for each misdemeanor that was committed.

Conspiracy to Commit Mail or Wire Fraud

Section 18 of U.S. Code 1349 creates another conspiracy type that is specifically related to the commission of some type of wire or mail fraud. Essentially, this applies to any individual who tries to use the mail or wire system to commit any of a number of different crimes. The definition of mail fraud is the key element here. If one is convicted of such fraud, a prison sentence of not more than 20 years and a financial penalty are possible.

What is Exactly is Conspiracy?

To understand the statutes that apply here, one must first know what exactly conspiracy is. It is essentially an agreement amongst more than one individual to engage in some type of criminal conduct. However, certain elements must be in place for this to rise to the level of federal conspiracy.

The Criminal Code basically states that a federal crime exists when two or more conspire to commit a crime against the country, or any agent of the United States. If even one of those people carries out the crime, all of those involved in the planning will potentially be charged with conspiracy. Within this statute itself, conspiracy is not really defined. Despite that, courts still use the term conspiracy openly to charge defendants with the crime.

The Supreme Court has broadly rules that a conspiracy exists with at least two people agree together to commit some type of criminal activity. The action draws the attention of federal investigators when the crime that is being talked about is meant in some way to harm the United States. This typically involves defrauding the U.S. government, even if there is no existing statute that stipulates the action is actually fraudulent.

The Need For An Attorney

As you can imagine, conspiracy cases are quite complex. The penalties can be severe, and the defense difficult to mount. You need a lawyer on your side who understand the federal system and can work to fight these charges and shine a light on your innocence. The statutes are broad and they can move a case in many different directions. If you find yourself brought up on federal conspiracy charges, contact a professional and experienced attorney right away.

Facing Federal Conspiracy Charges: What You Need to Know

When facing a criminal prosecution, you may be charged with federal conspiracy crimes. Federal criminal charges are pursued in federal court rather than state or local courts. They are prosecuted by district attorneys, and the law enforcement agencies include federal agencies like the DEA and FBI. Conspiracy charges are often just one of many criminal charges used in a criminal proceeding.

Understanding Conspiracy Charges

Conspiracy can be broadly defined. Many different circumstances can lead to conduct that allows for a conspiracy charge. It’s difficult to defend against a conspiracy charge. The defendant’s attorney must investigate all of the evidence and the role that the government believes every involved individual played.

People may be charged with conspiracy to commit federal crimes if at least two people agree that they will commit a federal crime together. In addition to the agreement, at least one party involved in the conspiracy must act to push the conspiracy further.

Conspiracy charges do not need written evidence. The involved parties don’t need to have written a contract. As long as the prosecutor can provide proof that the parties did work together to commit a crime, they can achieve a conspiracy conviction.

The federal statute that outlines conspiracy charges is 18 U.S.C. 371. In the statute, it is made criminal to conspire to defraud the US government and to conspire to violate any federal law. For an act to be a conspiracy, it needs to meet the following requirements:

  • At least two people plan together to commit a federal crime or to defraud the US government
  • At least one of the involved parties works to commit the crime in question

This is the general definition of federal conspiracy. But there are also conspiracy provisions found within other federal statutes. Some of the specific details include:

  • You cannot conspire to distribute, manufacture, or intend to distribute a controlled substance
  • You cannot conspire to commit a robbery

Challenges and Precedents

There have been many different conspiracy charges argued and debunked. Significant precedent has been set for future cases. In the past, judges have ruled that people can conspire together even if they never interact or meet. All they need to know is that the other individual was furthering the conspiracy.

This type of situation occurs most often in conspiracies that involve tangled webs of many individuals. A central entity may coordinate other people without ever giving them information about who they’re working with. All of these people have legally conspired together despite not knowing each other.

Because of how broad the definition of “conspiracy” is, it is possible for the government to abuse the statute. People may be subject to absurd consequences for relatively minor actions. With how the law is written, a person could be prosecuted and convicted of conspiracy charges if they agreed to a bank robbery with another individual, and then bought a ski mask for the robbery. Even if the two individuals would never actually go through with the plan, doing those things is enough.

A huge consequence of conspiracy charges is that all the involved individuals are held equally responsible. In cases where one person masterminded the conspiracy and used others to do their bidding, the less-informed parties are subject to the same criminal charges.

This tends to happen commonly in cases involving drug conspiracies. If a person was involved in a drug-related conspiracy in some very minor way, they may be charged as though they were involved with all the drugs. Perhaps they only distributed some marijuana, but they’re being given minimum sentences for intending to distribute methamphetamines like the other people involved in the drug ring.

Defense Attorneys for Conspiracy Charges

If you’re facing a federal conspiracy charge, it’s vital that you have adequate legal counsel. An experienced federal defense attorney can examine the evidence and help you understand your path forward. They may be able to help you negotiate a plea deal or provide a solid defense should the case proceed to trial.

The laws about federal conspiracies are extremely complicated in part because they are so simple. Because of how open to interpretation the statutes are, prosecutors can bring conspiracy charges down on people in many different circumstances. People are most likely to face conspiracy charges when involved in white collar crime accusations or drug-related accusations.

Your defense attorney can take steps to defend you against the charges. They will analyze the evidence presented by the government. They may also need to dig deep to find the evidence and story that the prosecution is creating. The process takes a great deal of time, so it’s important to have an attorney who is dedicated to your case.

If you’re facing federal criminal charges, our law firm can help. Our New Jersey partners practice in federal criminal court.

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