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What is Criminal Conspiracy?

By Spodek Law Group | November 1, 2020
(Last Updated On: July 28, 2023)

Last Updated on: 28th July 2023, 07:20 pm

Understanding the conspiracy concept better may be difficult for you because of the invalid information available out there concerning it. Such information may not be clear on what it is and how prosectors view it. However, in this article, we try to elaborate on you what it entails. Continue reading to understand better.


What is criminal conspiracy according to criminal law?


According to criminal law, conspiracy occurs when two or more persons consult or agree to commit a criminal offense. The agreement alone is a crime, although they must take some steps towards its execution.


Conspiracy is also an incomplete crime or inchoate crime since it does not necessarily mean that the actual crime has to happen to be a conspiracy. Even the little acts that lead to the crime’s execution can be termed as a criminal conspiracy.


How is it comparable to other criminal acts?


Comparing conspiracy to other types of crime, you will realize that it’s so unique. Imagine an individual can be charged for conspiracy crime, and if the crime takes place, the same individual is charged with the crime again -now with two offenses. That is quite shocking, but it’s what the conspiracy law states. In line with federal conspiracy statute:


  • The move by two or more individuals to commit a crime is the crime in itself. Assuming there is no agreement, there can be no crime to be charged against the co-conspirators.
  • The co-conspirators have to agree on some terms before anything else. An example of such an agreement is to defraud the United States or any other federal agency. Also, they can decide to commit a federal crime. That is how the conspiracy works.
  • Finally, at least one of the co-conspirators must take an overt act in furthering the conspiracy. The overt to be taken should not be legal because the crime to be committed will not be legal. Furthermore, only one co-conspirator needs to take the overt and not all, as many may assume.

Consider the following:


Suppose two individuals or more agree to buy a spanner to be used to vulgarize someone’s house, and one party proceeds to buy it (a legal act). The other parties will also be held responsible for the conspiracy if the actual crime takes place. That is how unique conspiracy is compared to other forms of crime.


Other Arguments About It


Some legal experts agree that the subject of conspiracy is flexible. They also state further that most prosectors use the allegation of conspiracy as a pointless charge. Other conspiracy lawyers argue that conspiracy charge is often exaggerated to some extent.


Other information about a criminal conspiracy?


As mentioned, as long as there is an agreement between two or more parties to commit a crime, that is defined as a conspiracy. The nature of the agreement must not be formal. As long as there is a mutual agreement, the prosectors’ will be satisfied that it’s a conspiracy to commit an unlawful act, even if not in writing.


For it to be termed as conspiracy, there must be signals that those involved in it had a clear intent of what was to happen. However, if your friends or relatives notify you about committing a crime, that cannot be termed a conspiracy. It’s only a conspiracy if you agree to the intent and participate in executing it in whatsoever way.


How is conspiracy punishable?


No criminal offense goes unpunished once the accused individual(s) are found guilty. Various countries globally have a way of penalizing conspirators. The laws of their land majorly guide them. Also, in the United States, there is a way in which conspiracy is punished. Continue reading to understand how that is done.


What does the federal statute say about the penalty?


According to federal conspiracy statute, the act is punishable heavily by up to five years imprisonments coupled with other allied fines. However, punishment is not fixed. It could be relaxed up to some extent if the committed offense was a mere act. That is because the penalty for a mere conspiracy, according to the federal conspiracy statute, cannot exceed the outlined maximum penalty.


Furthermore, the prosecutor’s decision on a conspiracy crime is dependent on two things. If the co-conspirator was involved in the plans but not execution, the penalty could be relaxed. However, if the co-conspirator was actively involved in the plans and execution, the penalty can be hefty.




You need to understand that conspiracy is an unlawful act that you should never commit, considering the above information. Visiting related sites will also make you understand the concept better. The penalties associated with it are also severe that you should, at all times, avoid it regardless of the promising rewards from it.

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