In New York, it is a crime to make plans with someone else to commit a crime. This is called conspiracy. If you agree with one or more people to commit a crime and take a single step to further your plans, you’ve committed conspiracy.
Conspiracy in the first degree
There are several different levels of conspiracy charges in New York. The most serious is conspiracy in the first degree. It’s a violation of New York Penal Law § 105.17.
To commit the crime of conspiracy in the first degree you must be eighteen years of age or older. You must agree with someone who is less than sixteen years old to commit a felony. The felony that you agree to commit must be a class A felony. You must commit at least one act to further the conspiracy.
Conspiracy in the first degree is a class A-I felony. That makes it one of the most serious offenses in New York criminal law. Murder, arson and terrorism are other examples of A-I felonies in New York. If you’re convicted, you can expect to spend many years in prison. It’s crucial to have an NYC criminal attorney evaluate your case to help you prepare your best defense.
It’s not enough just to talk about it
Law enforcement can’t charge you with conspiracy in the first degree if all you do is talk about committing a class A felony. For example, you’re thirty years old, and you’re working on a project with your twelve year old nephew. During your project, your nephew tells you how another student is picking on him at school.
Angered, you tell your nephew that you can burn the other student’s house down. Your nephew is excited about this, and you spend the next hour talking about your plans to burn the student’s house down. Later, your nephew tells his mother about the exchange. She calls the police.
New York penal law 105.20 says that a person can’t be convicted of conspiracy under New York law unless at least one of the people in the conspiracy does something to further the conspiracy. In this case, it’s unlikely that the police can charge you with conspiracy in the first degree. You didn’t take any steps to further the conspiracy.
One example of a class A felony is murder in the first degree. Say for example that you’re twenty-one years old. You have a cousin that’s fourteen years old. You agree with your cousin that you’re going to murder a person that lives down the street. You buy throw-away phones to continue making plans, and you find a hammer in your basement to use as a weapon.
The police find out about your plans. They find proof that you agreed with your fourteen-year-old cousin to commit this murder and bought the phones. The police charge you with conspiracy in the first degree under New York law.
If you’re charged with conspiracy in the first degree, you should carefully review all of the elements of the offense to see if the state can prove their case against you. If there is a question about your age or the age of the person that you allegedly conspired with, you can raise this as a defense. Another common defense is that you didn’t agree to commit an A-I felony. You might argue that none of the parties involved in the agreement took any steps to further the conspiracy. If you’re facing this charge, it’s important to explore every possible option.