A conspiracy is an agreement between at least two people to commit a crime. It is important to note that a prosecutor could bring these charges even if the crime the alleged conspirators planned never happened. Conviction on these charges could lead to hefty fines, prison time, and difficulty obtaining employment, housing, and credit for the rest of your life. If you have been charged with conspiracy, it is imperative to work with a seasoned criminal defense attorney. A NoVa conspiracy lawyer could stand up to prosecutors and protect your rights.
The consequences of a conspiracy conviction relate to the seriousness of the crime the conspirators allegedly planned. These charges typically carry penalties somewhat less harsh than the penalties associated with the underlying crime. For example, when the crime the conspirators intended to commit carries a sentence of fewer than five years’ incarceration, the penalty for conspiracy to commit that crime could be up to one year in prison. When the underlying crime is a non-capital felony, conspiracy to commit that crime is a Class 5 felony. If the planned crime is a capital felony—one that is subject to the death penalty—conspiracy to commit the crime is a Class 3 felony. Virginia Code §18.2-10 sets forth the penalties for the various classes of felony convictions. A lawyer in NoVa could help someone determine what penalties they may facing for a conspiracy charge and work to mitigate these consequences.
A successful prosecution for conspiracy requires a prosecutor to prove that at least two people agreed to commit a specific crime, and offer proof that the individuals intended to go through with their plan. The state also must prove that each took steps to accomplish the crime, whether or not they ever actually attempted it.
A NoVa lawyer could raise doubts in a conspiracy case by presenting evidence that shows that the client pretended to agree with a co-conspirator because they were intimidated or afraid. Alternatively, the client might not have believed the co-conspirator had the sincere intent or capability of ever committing the crime.
Similarly, there could be room to challenge the prosecutor’s evidence that the client took steps to carry out the crime. There might be multiple reasons why an individual took a particular action, many of them unrelated to criminal behavior. If an accused party could offer a credible explanation for their actions, the prosecutor might fail to meet their burden of proof.
Conspiracy is often an add-on charge that prosecutors use to increase the potential penalty a person might face on conviction. They also bring conspiracy charges against other people who might have evidence or testimony that could support the prosecution’s case against a co-conspirator. Depending on the circumstances, a savvy defense attorney could arrange for a client to provide information against an alleged co-conspirator in return for immunity from prosecution or a reduced sentence. Prosecutors often are amenable to such arrangements.
Fighting conspiracy charges requires an assertive defense. A NoVa conspiracy lawyer has the experience and deep knowledge of the system to achieve the best result possible, given the evidence at hand.
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