The Unique Circumstances of Conspiracy Crime Allegations
Although most people recognize that there are certain actions that are inherently criminal in nature, in some cases the very act of planning a crime is illegal. These offenses are classified as “inchoate,” and include the crime of conspiracy.
Conspiracy is a unique crime because it relies on intent rather than action to prosecute. To successfully prosecute for conspiracy, the state must show that two or more individuals agreed to commit a crime or perpetrate an illegal act. It is important to note that the crime of conspiracy requires at least two people — it is impossible to conspire with yourself and courts do not make it their business to attempt to prosecute someone who has simply harbored ideas about committing crimes, but taken no proactive steps toward acting them out.
The line between thinking about a crime and conspiring to commit one is crossed when a person communicates with another about it and takes an overt step toward that crime. Courts consider this an important step because it shows that a person is moving toward action. It does not matter if the people actually commit the crime, as long as they conspired with one another about doing so.
Conspiracy crimes may include any type of crime that was contemplated by the parties. These might include the manufacture and trafficking of drugs, or even violent crimes such as murder. Unlike other inchoate crimes that rely on intent, such as attempt or solicitation, the crime of conspiracy does not merge with the criminal act if it is completed. An individual cannot be charged with both attempted murder and murder at the same time, for instance.
The crime of conspiracy puts a heavy burden on prosecutors, who must demonstrate a person’s intent in the absence of definitive action. If you’ve been accused of conspiracy in Ohio, speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Cleveland to develop a sound defense strategy for you.