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.
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.
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.