Conspiracy in the fourth degree is a violation of New York Penal Law 105.10. A conspiracy occurs when two or more people make an agreement to commit a crime. In New York, at least one of the people must actually take an affirmative step to further the plan in order for the conspiracy to be complete.
The different degrees of conspiracy
In New York, the crime of conspiracy is divided into different degrees. First-degree conspiracy is the most serious offense, and sixth-degree conspiracy is the least serious of the conspiracy offenses. What degree a conspiracy plan falls into depends on the circumstances of who makes the agreement and what crime the group plans to commit.
Conspiracy in the fourth degree
There are three different ways for a conspiracy to amount to conspiracy in the fourth degree. The first way is for two people to agree to commit a felony that is a class B or class C offense. The second way is for a person who is older than eighteen to agree with a person under sixteen to commit any felony offense. The third way is to conspire to commit money laundering.
For example, Kelly and Shelly make a plan to commit welfare fraud. Kelly agrees to help Shelly submit a false application for welfare benefits. The plan works and Shelly gets welfare benefits fraudulently. The welfare fraud amounts to welfare fraud in the first degree.
In that case, Kelly and Shelly can both face charges for conspiracy in the fourth degree. Welfare fraud in the first degree is a class B felony. Kelly and Shelly’s conspiracy is a fourth-degree offense because they agreed to commit a class B felony and took at least one step to commit the offense.
By contrast, if a person acts alone, there is no conspiracy. For example, Aaron, Karen and Sharon walk down a quiet street. Aaron is nineteen years of age, and Karen is fourteen years of age. Aaron carries a stick while he walks.
The group sees an elderly man walking the other way. Without saying anything, Aaron leaves the group and runs to the old man. He strikes the man with the stick. The man suffers serious injuries.
In this case, Aaron faces serious charges for the assault. However, no conspiracy has occurred in this case. Because Aaron never made an agreement with Karen or Sharon to attack the old man, only Aaron faces criminal charges in this situation.
Conspiracy in the fourth degree is a class E felony. It’s punishable by up to four years in prison. The court can impose a large fine and place you on probation for up to five years. This is a serious offense. Because there is serious jail time on the line, it’s important to work with an NYC criminal lawyer to defend your case to the fullest extent possible.
If you’re charged with conspiracy in the fourth degree, you can attack the state’s evidence, attack the way law enforcement gathered the evidence or make a claim that you acted under duress. You and your attorney can also explore plea options that could earn you more favorable disposition from the court. If you’re facing a conspiracy charge you might face additional charges if you or someone in your group actually completed the offense. If you’re interested in a non-trial resolution, you might be able to reach a plea agreement with the state. It’s important to work with an attorney to understand the choices available to you and make an informed decision about your case.
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