Under federal law, a conspiracy is an agreement by two or more persons to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud any federal agency, if one or more person commits an overt act to further the object of the conspiracy.
Conspiracy is a crime in and of itself, meaning the conspirators do not have to complete the object of the conspiracy to violate the law. Nor must the conspirators violate any substantive crime. What is more, a conspiracy may be prosecuted even though the government is only prosecuting one member of the conspiracy.
All that conspiracy requires is an agreement and an overt act. Thus, conspiracy is frequently invoked to prosecute preparatory activities to prevent a substantive crime. Conspiracy cases often arise in white collar prosecutions because multiple persons may have cooperated to effectuate some complicated plan.
However, conspiracy may be defensible and can be difficult to prove. If a person did not make an agreement or openly withdrew from the agreement, then the person cannot be convicted for conspiracy.
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