Thinking and talking generally aren’t criminal acts, but there are some exceptions to this rule of thumb. In certain scenarios, conversations that people have could results in allegations that they participated in a criminal conspiracy of some sort. Discussions about certain behaviors or plans could lead to federal prosecution in some cases.
Facing accusations of conspiracy can result in federal charges and a criminal record that will forever affect how others perceive those who have been convicted of such wrongdoing. Conspiracy charges are theoretically possible even in a scenario where no actual serious crime, such as theft or interpersonal violence, occurred.
Any attempt to defraud government agencies is potentially a conspiracy
When two or more people cooperate to interfere in how a government agency performs its work, those people could face conspiracy charges. In person discussions, phone calls and text messages could all provide evidence of an intent to cooperate to violate the law or bypass enforcement efforts. Those whose efforts undermine the work of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Food and Drug Administration could face conspiracy charges.
The definition of conspiracy is incredibly broad, and anyone involved in financial dealings or criminal conduct that seek to avoid criminal penalties for their actions could end up charged with a federal conspiracy offense. Arranging to manufacture or transport illegal drugs, covertly communicating to engage in insider trading and countless other actions may result in allegations of someone’s involvement in a criminal conspiracy. Simply being privy to the information or part of the planning process can be enough to trigger charges. An individual does not necessarily need to carry out a criminal act as part of a conspiracy to end up accused of a crime.
Conspiracy charges can carry major consequences
The extent of the conspiracy, it’s impact on others and the degree of someone’s involvement can all influence what penalties they may face. The possible consequences range from five years in federal custody to 40 years or longer.
It may be possible to fight back against conspiracy charges, but the process will likely require a careful review of the evidence the state has put together related to the alleged conspiracy. Seeking legal guidance to learn more about the broad federal statutes that regulate someone’s behavior may help individuals to avoid or better respond to serious federal charges.