There are few major crimes committed in the U.S. that do not come with some form of federal conspiracy charge attached to them. Whether it is the case of a Mexican drug cartel shipping illegal substances across the border or the executives at Enron tried for their part in the accompanying scandal, federal conspiracy charges always seem to be filed against some of those involved. A conspiracy is described by the U.S. Federal Government as an agreement between two or more people to commit a criminal act. This is a broad law that can be interpreted in many ways with its use often to allow more evidence of collusion between two or more people to be entered into evidence during a trial.
What is a Conspiracy Charge?
A conspiracy is committed any time two or more people come together to discuss a specific crime and steps are taken to move forward with the offense. The broad wording of the term, conspiracy is one of the gray areas in Federal law because a person who is in the planning stages of a crime could, in theory, be charged with a federal conspiracy, but they will often not be until the crime takes place.
When we think of federal conspiracy charges we tend to consider drug trafficking as the major area of concern for law enforcement officers and prosecutors. Federal conspiracy charges do often come from drug offenses but they can be used in almost every form of a criminal trial where two or more people are being charged. Many white-collar crimes involving high finance result in conspiracy charges being brought because it is usual for more than one person to be aware of what is going on at a specific company.
How often are Federal COnspiracy Charges Brought?
The short answer is more often than an individual may think. One of the main reasons why so many conspiracy charges are brought during a trial is the fact they allow a broader range of evidence to be brought to the venue of the trial. When a prosecutor tries a case with a specific criminal charge it is common for the individual to be tried with evidence solely focused on the crime that has been committed. However, when a federal conspiracy charge is introduced the prosecutor has the chance to introduce a wide range of evidence concerning the plans of the criminals to commit more crimes and cause harm to their community.
Why is a Federal Conspiracy Charge so Important?
The U.S. Federal Government takes the view that alone criminal acting without others poses less of a threat to the community than a group of people intent on committing criminal acts. When more than one person has been involved in the planning or execution of a crime a federal conspiracy charge is usually produced that will result in a heavy fine and jail time for those involved.
What are the Possible Sentences?
Federal Sentencing Guidelines are far more stringent than those used at a state-level meaning higher fines and longer jail time are usually available for those who commit a federal crime. No matter which part of the U.S. a person is tried in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines will be used if they are found guilty with each judge having little to no discretion regarding the severity of the punishment.
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines require a person found guilty of a conspiracy to commit a crime to be sentenced to no more than five years in jail. Fines are also large with the usual monetary sentence for a conspiracy charge rising to no more than $250,000.
Other Conspiracy Charges
In the last few years, the charges that can be brought by the Federal Government against those thought to be involved in a conspiracy to commit a crime have altered. Higher sentences are now available for those who are charged with being involved in the conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, or sell drugs. ANother different level of conspiracy has been introduced for terrorist charges that carry far higher penalties for those involved.
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