What is A Criminal Conspiracy

Federal Conspiracy Statute 18 USC § 371


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Federal Conspiracy Charges

Title 18 USC 371 penalizes the act of criminal conspiracy to commit offense or defraud the United States. It usually sanctions two or more individuals who conspire with each other with the intention to defraud others and in performing criminal acts. The act committed may be against a private individual, or against the state and any of its agencies. To become guilty it is essential to prove the following:

  • There is an intention between parties to engage in unlawful acts
  • That the parties involve must have expressed such intention through overt acts by actually committing the criminal acts they intend to do
  • Knowledge about the conspiracy and an understanding about the illegal object involved in the crime.

Federal Conspiracy Cases

The prosecution has the burden of proving the existence of criminal-conspiracy among the accused. The crime may be investigated by the FBI, DEA as well as several other goverment agencies. There are certain procedural processes involved that can help indicate the presence of conspiracy that is sanctioned under 18 USC§ 371, such as using out of court statement of one conspirator against his fellow conspirators and joining all conspirators in a single trial. The prosecution can also present the investigating officers who are involved in the crime investigation to prove the participations of the several accused in the commission of the crime.

Federal Conspiracy Penalties

The penalties involved for criminal conspiracy may vary. 18 USC § 371 provides for the following penalties:

  •  Imprisonment of not more than five years.
  • Other criminal offenses like drug trafficking, racketeering, and terrorism carry the penalties prescribed under the statutes punishing such offenses, which carry a greater penalty than what 18 USC 371 provides.
  • The crime is punishable with a fine of not more than $250,000 for individuals and not more than $500,000 for criminal organizations.

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