Maryland Conspiracy Lawyer
In Maryland, a conspiracy to commit a crime occurs when two or more parties make an agreement to engage in criminal activity. Under Maryland law, a person can be charged with the attempt to commit a crime, even if the crime itself is not completed. All that is necessary is that the parties have come together with the intention of committing the crime. Understanding and defending against conspiracy charges can be particularly difficult because such crimes are often considered incomplete, or inchoate, crimes. Because of the complexity and ramifications of conspiracy laws in Maryland, it is very important to secure a Maryland conspiracy lawyer if you or a loved one have been charged with a conspiracy offense.
Conspiracy Charges in Maryland
The actual sections of the code on which the charges are based on are drawn from the laws related to the specific alleged crimes, rather than a separate set of conspiracy laws.
For example, a criminal charge related to conspiracy to commit murder would state something similar to: “(the primary defendant) and (name of alleged co-conspirator) on (date) in (county) unlawfully conspired together to murder (name of victim), against the peace, government, and dignity of the State.” This is based on § 1-203 of the Maryland Criminal Code.
It is important to remember that conspiracy charges are not just related to violent crimes. § 11-204, dealing with unlawful contracts, combinations, and conspiracies, notes that a person may not “…conspire with one or more other persons to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce.” This statute deals with areas such as price-fixing, discrimination, monopolies and unfair competition.
What Kinds of Crimes Might Have Conspiracy Charges?
Conspiracy charges can be used against defendants alleged to be involved in crimes such as:
- Distribution of drugs
- Or any kind of crime that can involve more than one person.
Alleged ‘gang members’ are frequently charged with conspiracy if a crime is considered to be “gang related.” With gang related conspiracy charges, a defendant may be charged if they had knowledge that a crime was possibly going to be committed, or if they would benefit from the commission of the crime.
Many times, prosecutors will file conspiracy charges to gain leverage over a wider range of people than those charged with the actual commission of a crime. Conspiracy crime statutes are often very broadly worded, and defendants may be very surprised to learn that they are accused of conspiring to commit a crime. That is why it is very important to seek the services of an expert conspiracy defense lawyer in Maryland if you have been accused of conspiring to commit a crime.
What Are the Penalties for Conspiracy Convictions?
Maryland criminal conspiracy charges can carry the same penalties as the actual crimes. As with all crimes, punishment and sentencing for a defendant convicted of a conspiracy charge will depend on the evidence brought forth by the prosecution in the case, and by the applicable federal and local statutes. Factors such as age, background, past criminal record (if any), education and attitude can all be taken into account.
A more severe sentence may be given based on the nature and circumstances of the crime. Conspiracy to commit murder may bring a harsher sentence than conspiracy to defraud, or other economic, trade, or commerce related conspiracies.
There are a number of mandatory minimum sentences in Maryland law for certain drug related offenses that specify conspiracy charges in the description. For example:
- § 5-608(b) specifies a minimum 10 year sentence for a second violation of §§ 5-602 to 5-606 involving a Schedule I or II narcotic drug, including convictions for conspiracy
- § 5-608(c) specifies a minimum 25 year sentence for a third violation of §§ 5-602 to 5-606 involving a Schedule I or II narcotic drug, including convictions for conspiracy
- § 5-608(d) specifies a minimum 40 year sentence for a fourth violation of §§ 5-602 to 5-606 involving a Schedule I or II narcotic drug (including convictions for conspiracy)
- § 5-613 specifies a minimum 20 year sentence for anyone designated as a “Drug kingpin.” This is someone who is an organizer, supervisor, financier, or manager who acts as a co-conspirator in a conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, dispense, transport in or bring into Maryland a controlled dangerous substance in an amount listed in § 5-612
Drug Conspiracies and Drug Kingpins
Maryland drug laws related to trafficking and distribution of controlled substances are especially harsh on those defendants alleged to be “drug kingpins.” These “kingpins” are defined as those who are involved as a co-conspirator in a conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, dispense, transport in or bring into Maryland a controlled dangerous substance, or is regarded as an organizer, supervisor, financier, or manager of such a conspiracy.
If you have been accused on drug conspiracy or drug kingpin charges, it is very important for you to have experienced representation that knows how to provide the best possible defense against these charges. You need the kind of representation you can get from an expert Maryland conspiracy defense lawyer.
Other Types of Criminal Conspiracy
Besides the drug related conspiracy crimes, there are other types of criminal conspiracy charges that can be brought against alleged “gang members.” These can include conspiring to possess a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, conspiring to distribute illegal firearms, participating in a racketeering conspiracy, and conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering. Basically, if an individual is part of an organization, and that organization is alleged to be involved in any kind of illegal activity, that individual may be charged with conspiracy relating to that activity.
Criminal conspiracy charges also do not just apply to organizations. If a group of friends or relatives discusses committing a crime, for example anything from the robbery of a convenience store to embezzlement or murder, even as a joke, if some member of the group actually commits the crime, all the members of that group could be charged. While these other members may be completely unaware that one person actually carried out what they had discussed, they will still need the services of an experienced Maryland conspiracy lawyer.