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Don’t Let Conspiracy Charges Threaten Your Livelihood And Freedom

Too many people judge defendants guilty before they ever enter a courtroom. In fact, federal conspiracy charges can be filed before any illegal act is ever committed!

JC Law is determined to defend your right to a fair trial – and your freedom along with it.

What Is A Criminal Conspiracy?

At its most basic, criminal conspiracy is when two or more people plan to commit some sort of illegal act, and then do something to show that they really intend to do it.

The key word there is “intent.” Federal prosecutors must prove that the accused truly intended to do something, and then tried to make it happen.

For example, let’s pretend that two employees wanted to steal proprietary information from a competitor.

They discuss the information they want to steal and ways to get it over a company-owned messaging service. Then, they hire a hacker and tell him they want login information to the competitor’s computer network.

Even if the hacker never carried out the attack and the two employees never actually stole the information, the three could still be guilty of conspiracy:

  • The two employees expressed an intent to commit an illegal act (stealing information).
  • They then met – virtually, but still communicated together – to discuss their desired illegal act.
  • The employees also took steps towards the stated illegal goal by hiring a hacker.

The hacker could also be charged with conspiracy, since he met with the employees to discuss an illegal action and then took money to carry it out.

For a real-world example, consider the summer 2020 hit Netflix documentary “Tiger King.”

Joe Maldonado-Passage had a slew of federal charges against him. Most were for wildlife-related acts, but one was conspiracy for murder for hire.

For years, Maldonado-Passage would make threats toward a wealthy wildlife lobbyist. However, federal prosecutors were unable to bring a case against him until they had evidence that he:

  • Held a meeting with a would-be hitman.
  • Paid a sum of money with the intention that the hitman would kill the woman in question.

The meeting with others started the conspiracy, but the payment for the would-be murder demonstrated Maldonado-Passage’s intent.

When Are Conspiracy Allegations A Federal Crime?

Let’s go back to our “Tiger King” conspiracy example. The reason the charges were federal conspiracy charges and not state is because the conspiracy crossed state lines: The planning was in Oklahoma, and the target was in Florida.

Federal charges of conspiracy would be filed whenever conspiracies cross state lines, thus triggering the “Commerce Clause” of the constitution to give them jurisdiction.

Many conspiracies which have an online component – communicating illegal intent on messaging boards, or hiring partners for illegal acts online – trigger federal conspiracy charges. Cyber crimes generally cross state borders, which means federal prosecution.

The feds also charge for conspiracy when one of the involved parties or the target is a part of the federal government.

Let’s say a terrorist group plans to bomb a federal courthouse located in Maryland.

Even if the entire conspiracy occurred within the state of Maryland, the federal government may choose to press charges, since it was the target.

What Are Possible Federal Conspiracy Penalties?

Sentences for federal conspiracy convictions are steep. Joe Maldonado-Passage could have gotten 20 years in federal prison for his conspiracy conviction, let alone the 20-odd wildlife trafficking charges.

Base felony conspiracy convictions can result in up to five years in federal prison, and fines of up to $500,000 if the convicted entity is a business organization.

However, the fact that conspiracy concerns an illegal act can amplify the charges. The type of illegal act planned as part of the conspiracy will inform the sentencing.

For example, conspiracy to commit murder might have different sentencing recommendations from the prosecution than conspiracy to commit fraud or inside trading.

How Can A Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Federal Conspiracy Defendants?

Everyone deserves the right to a fair trial, and to not be judged guilty before they ever step into a courtroom.

The proper criminal defense team ensures that a defendant’s Constitutional rights are maintained as part of the legal process. They can also fight for their defendant’s side of the story.

After all, conspiracy to commit a crime can be charged before any sort of illegal action is taken. The evidence that a conspiracy occurred can be incredibly circumstantial and insubstantial, when presented to a jury.

By its very nature, conspiracy charges can be nebulous and difficult to prosecute. The crime – or rather, the “intent” to commit a crime – must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

JC Law has years of experience defending clients from conspiracy and other federal charges. Our conspiracy defense lawyers make sure that everyone gets their opportunity to tell their side of the story so true justice – not needless punishment – can happen.

“From the moment I called, to the day my situation was over, Jim Crawford had my back. Keeping me informed, my family at ease, and in the nightmare that we were living in at the time, I felt as if I could truly trust him. He knew exactly what to do, what steps to take, and everything ended up working out.”

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