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Federal Conspiracy Charges: Understanding The Five Elements

federal conspiracy charges
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Facing a federal conspiracy charge can be extremely expensive, cost you a good portion of your life, and can be a gut-wrenching experience. The good news is that you can only be convicted of a conspiracy charge if it is proven that two or more people agree to break the law together. Although the crime itself doesn’t have to be committed, as long as there is an overt act, you could face a conspiracy charge.

A federal criminal conspiracy is built up of five elements:

  • Two or more persons that;
  • Intentionally;
  • Agreed;
  • To violate federal law or defraud the United States; and
  • Commit an overt act in furtherance of the agreement.

If charged with a conspiracy charge, you can face some hefty penalties, which include years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

To present a defense to the federal conspiracy charges, you must first understand the details behind each element of the offense. Only through this understanding can you then fashion a defense that is both exhaustive and effective in the eyes of federal prosecutors and judges.

Two Or More Persons

Although this element seems straightforward, it can pose substantial hurdles for prosecutors to overcome. What communications can the government show that proves two or more individuals conspired? Are there questions as to the willingness of any of the alleged conspirators? These questions can pose significant doubt in showing that more than one person was involved in the planning of the commission of a crime.

Intent

Proving that a suspect to a criminal conspiracy intended to be involved may be one of the thorniest issues in a conspiracy prosecution. To show intent, you must demonstrate knowledge. Unless there is testimony from witnesses or admissions from a suspect alleging that a suspect did not have any knowledge of the alleged crime can be an effective way to stop the prosecution in its tracks.

Agreement

A written contract does not need to be presented to sustain a guilty finding on a federal conspiracy charge. However, evidence showing more than just a mere conversation is. Did the parties agree to perform the criminal act, or did they just joke about it? There is certainly a significant difference between the two, which can be the difference between a jury finding a suspect guilty or not guilty.

Violating A Federal Law

For federal prosecutors to take on a conspiracy charge, they must show that a federal, not state law was violated. Although Texas conspiracy charges are also criminal offenses, arguing that the federal government holds no jurisdiction over the case can be an effective way to push back against government overreach.

The Overt Act

Overt is an open act. For an overt act to be proven, it must be an act that is more than just a vague action, and it must be shown that the act was undertaken in furtherance of the planned criminal act. However, the act itself does not need to be considered illegal for it to satisfy the fifth element of a conspiracy.

The question of fact is whether the alleged act is also an everyday act. A good defense to the element is to show that the alleged act is simply an act that is performed every day and that there is no showing that on this occasion, the action was in furtherance of a plan to undertake an illegal act.

Fight Conspiracy Charges At Their Core With The Right Defense Attorney

Federal prosecutors are well funded and well trained. They are taught to build strong cases based on sufficient evidence and then, when a suspect is vulnerable, to seal the case with a confession. If you feel you may be a suspect in a federal conspiracy case, do not wait for federal agents to come banging on your door, as it may be too late. Instead, enlist the services of an aggressive and experienced defense attorney.

With over 30 years of experience defending clients against conspiracy charges, the attorneys at Vinas & Graham have the backbone to fight back against a government that, at times, take their investigations too far in pursuit of an unjust conviction. Don’t delay, contact the attorneys at Vinas & Graham to get your case in the hands of a trusted defense attorney.

To learn more, visit the Vinas & Graham Facebook page.

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