A federal conspiracy charge is a broad term used to describe various acts that are considered a crime. This means that if you or a loved are charged with federal conspiracy, then additional crimes may be levied against you. If you or your loved one is suspected of, accused of or charged with federal conspiracy under 18 USC 371, contact a federal criminal defense lawyer immediately. It’s time to fight the charge.
What is 18 USC 371?
Title 18 USC 371 is known as the conspiracy to defraud the United States or commit an offense. This charge makes it illegal for two or more people to conspire to defraud or commit an offense against the federal government.
In addition to planning a crime or to defraud, at least one person does an overt act to put the conspiracy in motion. An “overt” act means that you or someone you allegedly conspired with attempted to commit the planned crime.
It’s important to note that federal prosecutors aren’t required to find a written agreement between you and two more individuals to arrest you for conspiracy. The government must prove that specific people were planning to commit a specific crime together.
The Types of Crimes You can be Charged with According to 18 USC 371
Federal conspiracy is the intent to commit another crime or defraud the government along with two or more people. It is a criminal charge that leads to another, more serious federal criminal charge. The most common criminal charge a person facing federal conspiracy may also face fraud and drug trafficking. The types of federal crimes you can be charged with along with federal conspiracy are:
• Seditious conspiracy
• Retraining trade
• Violating RICO
• Submitting fraudulent claims to the U.S.
• Federal healthcare offense
• Violating the Controlled Substances Act (this is found under the Title 21 USC 841
• Committing fraud
• Any crime against the U.S. to defraud or commit an offense
The Punishment for the Conspiracy Conviction Depends on the Crime
The government has a lot of leeway to punish a person found guilty of conspiracy to commit a federal crime. According to Section 371, you may receive five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. However, you may not be sentenced to five years if you are convicted of a specific crime like terrorism, racketeering or drug trafficking. Instead, you will receive the criminal sentence for that specific crime. This is called the underlying crime.
You may also be ordered to pay restitution to the government or have property and assets forfeited.
However, if the crime you’re accused of committing is a misdemeanor, you won’t receive federal prison time. You will receive the punishment for that misdemeanor. For example, if the misdemeanor sentence is one year behind bars and/or a fine, that’s the time you’ll receive.
Fighting a Federal Conspiracy Charge
You are charged with federal conspiracy, not convicted. You have the opportunity to fight this charge. Understand that many people are charged with conspiracy because federal prosecutors need information on alleged co-conspirators. You can’t assume the government will drop the charges after they receive any information.
Your specific defense will depend on the facts of your case. Most people attack the charge using the defense that they didn’t knowingly or willingly engage in trying to commit another federal crime. Another defense is to show that you withdrew from the conspiracy. This means you took an overt action to stop conspiring prior to the crime taking place.
Remember, you specific defense will depend on you the facts of your case. That’s why it’s important to discuss you case with a federal defense lawyer.
Allow Us to Fight Your Federal Conspiracy Charge
Conspiracy charges are serious. You face serious punishment for violating 18 USC 371. Federal conspiracy charges are often misunderstood. Often times innocent people are accused of federal conspiracy based on flimsy evidence or no evidence at all. This means you need knowledgeable legal representation which understands the severity of the crime and defenses available to you.
How Do Federal Conspiracy Charges Work?
In the United States, it is illegal to work with a group of people to conspire against the federal government. It’s called federal conspiracy and it is outlined in the statute 18 USC 371. Federal conspiracy is one of the most frequently criminal federal charges. Unfortunately, federal conspiracy is also one of the most misunderstood federal charges.
If you are facing federal conspiracy charges or your loved one is, contact a federal defense lawyer immediately. For now, the following information focuses on federal conspiracy charges and how the charges work.
The reason why federal conspiracy is the one of the most frequently charged crimes is that it allows them to include a broader set of evidence at trial. Many charges are restrictive because they require show specific evidence. Federal conspiracy doesn’t. It has a lot of general elements.
A federal conspiracy charge is also considered a weapon to get more information or a more people involved in a crime. For example, federal prosecutors may charge you with federal conspiracy if they believe you have vital information that you’re withholding on an alleged co-conspirator. They may also file the charge against you if they believe you are part of a larger group of people who committed a federal crime.
How Prosecutors Prove Federal Conspiracy Charges
Now that you know why a prosecutor may have charged you or a loved one with federal conspiracy, this is how they’ll try to prove it. The prosecutor has the specific federal crime. For example, you could be charged with any federal crime, defrauding the government or:
• Seditious conspiracy
• Restrain trade
• Federal health care offense
• Drug trafficking
• Deprive an individual of their civil rights
• Submit fraudulent claims to a federal agency
The next step in a conspiracy charge is to charge you with federal conspiracy. According to statute 18 USC 371, it is illegal for more than two to plan to commit a federal crime or defraud the government. The statute also makes it against the law for anyone in that group to make an overt step to commit the crime. Thus, you or any of the alleged co-conspirators aren’t required to complete the federal crime, just act on it.
To prove federal conspiracy, a federal prosecutor must show:
• You entered into an agreement with two or more people. A prosecutor isn’t required to prove that you met or interacted with any of the alleged co-conspirators. All the prosecutor has to do is prove that you entered into an agreement with alleged co-conspirators.
• The agreement you entered into was to either defraud the government or commit a federal crime. The federal crime is drug trafficking, racketeering, etc.
• You or your alleged co-conspirator took an overt step to commit a federal crime.
An Example of How a Federal Conspiracy Charge Work
This is how a federal conspiracy charge works. For example, Andrew and Cain decide traffic heroin at a party. You were at the party too and learned about the plan. Andrew took a step to obtain heroin. Andrew is arrested for the crime. You and Cain are arrested too. You are charged with conspiracy to commit drug trafficking.
A federal prosecutor may charge you with conspiracy because they want you to provide information on your alleged co-conspirators or because they believe you helped plan the crime. The federal prosecutor must only prove that you, Cain and Andrew entered into an agreement. The next step is to convince a jury that the agreement was to conspire to commit drug trafficking.
The last step is to show that Andrew did an overt act to complete the drug trafficking crime.
Contact Us About Your Federal Conspiracy Charge
You may be scared about your future because you’re facing a federal conspiracy charge. It’s time to think about your defense. Contact our law office for a free consultant. We will discuss your conspiracy charge and the specific defense to use. Contact us immediately about your case.
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