What are the elements of criminal conspiracy?

The term “conspiracy” is a common utterance in actual criminal cases and certainly on television shows and in movies that serve up ever-popular crime dramas.

And it can be a bit elusive and complex, right? Even law school students wrestle with the idea that an individual can be charged with both conspiracy to commit a certain crime and the commission of that offense itself.

What exactly is criminal conspiracy? And why do prosecutors frequently tack it on to the list of criminal charges they file in given cases?

We address conspiracy on our website at the proven Houston criminal defense firm of Hilder & Associates. We note that it “is an agreement by two or more persons to commit any [criminal] offense,” with a corresponding “overt act to further the object of the conspiracy.”

In a nutshell, all that is required to prove conspiracy is the above-cited agreement and an act toward commission of a crime.

And here is something notable, as pointed out in one online article spotlighting conspiracy: The action needn’t actually be a crime, but must only be “intended to break the law.”

Here’s an example. Two people discuss robbing a bank. They take pictures of its layout, don disguises and plan a getaway route. They even buy a gun.

But they never act upon the idea. Even so, they can still be charged with conspiracy to commit robbery.

We note on our website that prosecutors in Texas and elsewhere are often quick to add on conspiracy charges to other alleged offenses, given their simple “agreement and overt act” threshold proofs. The threat of one or more conspiracy counts often serve as negotiating chips for prosecutors as well, given that additional charges can amp up sentencing penalties.

Conspiracy can entail considerable murkiness and uncertainty, though. As such, a seasoned legal defense team can often successfully defend against it.

Questions or concerns regarding conspiracy or any other criminal law matter can be directed to experienced attorneys at an established criminal defense law firm.