Under both federal and state laws, those who conspire to commit a crime are at risk of conspiracy charges. You can be found guilty of violating federal conspiracy laws if you take part in a criminal offense covered under federal law or you attempt to defraud the U.S. government or a federal agency. Even if your role is a minor one, or you were not the leader or the individual who actually committed the crime, you can still be charged. The key element in this violation is that you were associated with the conspiracy.
Federal Conspiracy, Defined
To prove a conspiracy existed, federal prosecutors have to show:
- Two or more people agreed to violate a law
- The conspirators knew about the agreement to violate the law
- The conspirators planned to take part in the crime
- An action furthered the conspiracy
Even if the crime did not actually occur, you can still be indicted for conspiracy if you meet the above criteria. You don’t have to personally meet the other people in the conspiracy face-to-face. You just need to know the other person is working to advance the conspiracy.
Prosecutors and Conspiracy Charges
Conspiracy charges are among those most frequently filed by federal prosecutors. They use them as a blanket way to sweep up the minor participants in an alleged crime as well as the leaders.
Penalties for Conspiracy
An individual can be sentenced to as many as five years in a federal prison if they are convicted of conspiracy charges. In addition to prison time, you face thousands of dollars in fines, along with a permanent criminal record and the consequences that follow from that.
Why Hire an Experienced Pittsburgh Conspiracy Attorney
If you have been indicted for federal conspiracy – or you know someone else who has been – it is critical that you hire an experienced federal criminal attorney as soon as possible. The more time your attorney has to prepare and defend your case, the better. Federal law enforcement officers have likely been preparing months or years of evidence against you and working with federal prosecutors to bring these charges. They should not be taken lightly.
Having an experienced federal criminal attorney on your side can help in a number of ways. If you are being held in law enforcement custody, he or she can negotiate for you to be released on bond in many circumstances. Your defense also begins with discovering the evidence against you and preparing a defense that will help you achieve the best possible outcome.