Washington DC Conspiracy Lawyer
Legally, the DC criminal law definition of a conspiracy seems to be rather straightforward: If two or more people come together and reach an agreement to do something illegal, and then they take at least one action to carry out the plan that they have created, they may be found guilty of conspiracy. They need not even complete the illegal act to still be convicted of conspiracy. However, the crime of conspiracy can be quite complicated to understand and defend, which is why a Washington DC conspiracy lawyer is so important. Check out our DC and MD page for conspiracy cases relating to those states.
The Initial Agreement
In order to be convicted of conspiracy, the government must prove, among other things, that an agreement existed between two or more people to commit a crime. This agreement does not necessarily need to be formalized in writing to qualify. Rather, an agreement need only be a common understanding between those involved. The individuals must also have intended to enter into the agreement. Simply put, if a person understands the unlawful nature of the plan and enters into the agreement with the intent to advance the unlawful object of the conspiracy, that is sufficient.
In D.C., in addition to proving the existence of an agreement, proof of an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy is also required. Although there may be two or more people involved in the conspiracy, it only takes a single act in furtherance of the conspiracy by one of the members to qualify as an “overt act.” However, simply talking about the plan is not enough to constitute an overt act.
As an example, two people conspiring to smuggle guns into DC may need to get money from the bank in order to buy the guns in question. If one member goes to the bank and withdraws the money, this may qualify as an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. It does not matter that the conspirators do not yet have any guns, that they have not necessarily violated any of the gun laws, or that they have not yet harmed anyone. An act such as this can be enough to satisfy the “overt act” element of conspiracy.
In D.C., if a person is convicted of conspiracy to commit a criminal offense, that person’s punishment depends on the particular criminal offense he or she conspired to commit. A person convicted of conspiracy may be fined up to $12,500 or imprisoned for up to 5 years. If, however, a person is convicted of conspiracy to commit a criminal offense and that criminal offense is punishable by less than 5 years, the maximum penalty for the conspiracy cannot exceed the maximum penalty for the offense itself. If a person is convicted of conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, that person will be fined up to $12,500 or the maximum fine prescribed for the crime of violence, whichever is less. In addition, that person may be imprisoned up to 15 years depending on the maximum permitted imprisonment for the particular violent offense.
Withdrawing from the Conspiracy
One defense to a charge of conspiracy that a Washington lawyer may use is to argue that the person withdrew from the conspiracy. However, this can be difficult to prove. Simply fleeing the scene for example, does not constitute withdrawal. Rather, a person must go so far as to essentially cancel out any assistance he or she may have originally contributed to the conspiracy and do so before the fulfillment of the conspiracy is unpreventable. As an example, an official withdrawal could be demonstrated by a person going to the police to expose the rest of the group prior to the commission of the criminal act.
Finding a Lawyer
It is important that you retain a qualified attorney to help you fight the conspiracy charge you face. If you need legal representation, a conspiracy attorney at our firm will be able to inform you of all of the options that you have. Contact us as soon as possible to take advantage of the professionalism and experience of our lawyers.