If you have been charged with conspiracy to commit a crime in Massachusetts, the potential consequences of a conviction under the statute could change your life forever. If you have been charged with conspiracy to commit a crime you have a right to fight back and defend against a conviction. Every interaction with the criminal justice system may have consequences so it is important to consult with legal counsel to make sure you are preserving your rights along the way.
With the right legal counsel, you could avoid a conviction for conspiracy and move on with the rest of your life. However, before you can beat these charges you must understand what constitutes a conspiracy charge in Massachusetts.
What is Conspiracy to Commit a Crime?
A criminal conspiracy is any plan or agreement between two or more people to commit a crime. For a conviction, a prosecutor must show more than just an agreement, however. To be guilty, you must agree to the act as well as take an action towards completing or furthering the crime.
The “act” which furthers the crime may not be something “criminal” in itself. It may be something that without the prior agreement and intent to further a crime would be perfectly normal behavior. For example, buying something that is perfectly legal may count as an action towards completing the overall conspiracy if your intent was to use it in a crime. Anything from buying a shovel to parking a car in a certain place could be in furtherance of a crime depending on your intent.
When people conspire, it does not need to be in writing for it to be a crime. You could be found guilty as long as the prosecutor can show that everyone involved was acting in agreement and with a “guilty mind,” or meets the intent element of the crime. It makes little difference if the agreement was formalized in writing or agreed to with nonverbal communication. It is not essential that the conspirators meet in person for the prosecution to prove conspiracy.
What are the Penalties if Convicted of Conspiracy?
In Massachusetts, and elsewhere, the penalties you may face for a conspiracy conviction depend on the underlying crime that the prosecution says you conspired to commit – if the underlying crime carried a life sentence, for example, a conviction here could lead to up to 20 years in prison. An experienced attorney can help you determine the penalties and consequences you may face if a prosecutor succeeds in their case against you for criminal conspiracy. Common charges involved in conspiracy to commit a crime are:
- Human trafficking
- Defenses to Conspiracy Charges
A criminal defense lawyer with years of expertise can guide you on what you are up against and what defenses are viable in your case. Not only that, your attorney will counsel you on how to achieve the best outcomes throughout the criminal trial process. Some common defenses include:
Lack of Evidence
Sometimes all the police have is a theory. A major part of obtaining a conviction in these types of cases depends on the intention of the accused. If you have not made any statements to the police, it is possible they have limited evidence against you.
No Furthering Act
As we discussed above, a conviction in these cases requires not only the intent to conspire but an act in furtherance of the crime. If you had every intention of joining in the crime but never made any attempt to do so, you could avoid a conviction.
If you chose not to participate after initially indicating you would be involved in the crime, you might be able to avoid a conviction. However, you must establish that made an affirmative act removing yourself from the plot. Failing to participate in the actual crime is not a withdrawal without communicating your intention.
Mistake of Fact
Mistakes happen to everyone, including law enforcement. In some cases, they simply get it wrong. If you were mistakenly implicated in a crime, or if there was no intention to commit a crime in the first place, you are not guilty of the charge.
Facing these charges is never easy. The important thing to remember is that you have the right to an attorney and that you should never discuss criminal charges with law enforcement or others without your own counsel.