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What Is a Conspiracy Charge?

Those charged with conspiracy may face jail time.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 13 March 2014
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A conspiracy charge is an accusation that someone has been involved in a conspiracy, a plot in which two or more people agree to work together to accomplish a goal which is illegal, or to use illegal actions to further a legal goal. Being charged with conspiracy does not mean that someone is guilty; it means that person will go to trial so that evidence can be presented for the purpose of determining whether or not the charge is true. If the accused is guilty, the court will also sentence the conspirator.

Conspiracies can involve just two people, but more commonly there are many co-conspirators. Within the conspiracy, there may be additional smaller agreements between individuals that are intended to further one aspect or another of the plot. When people conspire, they gather together to discuss plans for accomplishing something by means which are not legal. In addition, many regions demand the commission of an "overt act" in order to convict people of conspiracy. Just planning, in other words, is not enough; someone must also take an action which is intended to be part of the conspiracy.

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Conspiracy charges can be criminal or civil in nature, and sometimes both. In the case of a criminal conspiracy charge, the charge is filed by the government against people who are believed to have broken the law. These individuals will be tried in court, with evidence being presented by the government, as well as by their own side, in order to provide information which will be used to determine whether or not the charge is true. Sentences can include fines and jail time.

Civil liability for a conspiracy is also possible. People who experience damages as a result of a conspiracy, as for example when people conspire to defraud someone, can file a suit in court. If this conspiracy charge is proved, the guilty party will need to pay damages. People can also have civil and criminal liability, as for example when people are jailed for conspiracy to commit murder and ordered to pay damages to the victim's family.

When a conspiracy charge is filed, it is common for the media to report on the matter, especially if the accused is someone with a high public profile. The practice of reporting on charges and accusations has been criticized in some regions of the world on the grounds that it can harm someone's reputation. People may remember that someone was brought up on a conspiracy charge, for example, and wrongly believe that the person was guilty.

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Discuss this Article

anon346735
Post 6

"Conspiracies can involve just two people, but more commonly there are many co-conspirators."

Really? What is the difference between a "conspirator" and a "co-conspirator"? There isn't one. The term is simply "conspirator." "Co-conspirator" is a nonsense term that is used because the media is lazy and the population are dullards.

anon324088
Post 5

Person A was charged with conspiring with person B to steal 40.000£. The case is going to the Crown court, but I am innocent.

The police believe there is proof, but this is stupid. The only thing is that I received a phone call from person B and person B called person C who was at the scene of the robbery.

I'm person A so I am the one who was robbed, but this is stupid. Person B is my best friend. We talked on the phone many times a day and person B has a Coffee shop. Person C is a customer and he normally calls him to order cakes and sometimes lunch for a particular time, but because we were in the same place, the police think this is a connection, but is just a coincidence. What is likely to happen now?

anon279223
Post 4

Person A was charged with conspiring with person B to defraud the VAT. The case went to the Crown court and A was acquitted of charges on counts 1,2 and 3.

Person B is waiting for a mention for trial. I want to know if A is free of all charges, then should not person B be tried on count 1 and set free?

fify
Post 3

@turkay1-- Yea, it's basically the worst felonies you can think of, like- murder, drug trafficking, kidnapping, corruption, forced prostitution and robbery.

For some reason though, we are always inclined to think of conspiracy as political or financial conspiracy. But as the article mentioned, these are the ones that are heavily presented in media, so that's probably why.

candyquilt
Post 2

This is a very good article.

I believe that conspiracy can only be applied to certain acts though right? It can't be charged for every illegal act. If that was true, there would be more conspiracy charges in the U.S. than any other charge.

Plus, conspiracy is not very easy to prove. Most of the planning is done in secret. It might even take years for people to finish planning and finally take action. And of course, there should be enough evidence if the goal is to jail the conspirators or make them pay a fine. It's a difficult process in my view.

Do you know which exact illegal acts can be charged with conspiracy?

bear78
Post 1

It doesn't mean that a crime is committed for there to be a conspiracy charge. It's enough if they tried. There are three steps to it. First, there must be a plan, secondly, all parties must have agreed and finally, there must be an action.

The action is the most important, because it shows that they are fully committed and willing to doing something illegal. They can be charged with conspiracy thereafter, whether or not they succeeded in their plan.

I think that's probably the part most conspirators don't think about. They don't realize that even a minor act can be enough to take them to court and if proven, prosecute them.

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