The term conspiracy makes people in Maryland think of high profile white collar crimes in opulent office buildings, or far-fetched theories involving complex webs of intrigue. The truth is, though, that conspiracy is a crime that may be charged in connection with almost type of offense, and it does not need to involve a complicated plot. However, the penalties for conspiracy can be severe, so it is wise for anyone charged with a crime involving conspiracy to work with a Maryland conspiracy lawyer who understands the unique defenses that can be raised in conspiracy cases. A criminal defense attorney familiar with conspiracy could help protect your rights while you work toward a positive outcome in the case.
At its most basic, a conspiracy occurs when two or more people agree to commit a crime or undertake a legal act by illegal means. Under common law, once one of the co-conspirators makes an “overt act” in furtherance of the crime they agreed to commit, then all co-conspirators become guilty of the crime of conspiracy, even if the crime they planned never actually occurs. Often, it is not even necessary for the prosecution to demonstrate that any action was taken toward the crime. Planning to commit an offense effectively becomes a crime of its own, so long as the parties involved have a “meeting of the minds.” If one party was planning only as a joke, or if one party was a law enforcement official trying to tempt another person to agree, then the parties would not be in true agreement about the plan to commit a crime, and it could not be accurately called a conspiracy. Conspiracy can involve virtually any type of offense. Two people can conspire to burglarize a single home in a single town, or fifteen people may conspire to distribute and sell drugs throughout and beyond the state. It is generally not necessary for all conspirators to be aware of the entire plan as long as they are aware that they are planning to commit an unlawful act. A well-versed Maryland attorney could help someone further understand what constitutes criminal conspiracy.
Under local law, conspiracy is charged based on the underlying offense the parties planned to commit, rather than a specific set of conspiracy statutes. The penalties therefore vary depending on the severity of the underlying crime. However, Maryland Criminal Code § 1-202 specifies that “[t]he punishment of a person who is convicted of conspiracy may not exceed the maximum punishment for the crime that the person conspired to commit.” In some instances, conspiracy is specifically mentioned in the criminal statutes. For instance, a manager in a conspiracy to manufacture, distribute or transport certain amounts of controlled dangerous substances may be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison with a fine of up to $1,000,000 under the “drug kingpin” statute in Md. Code, Crim. Law §5-613. A diligent attorney in Maryland could help someone understand the penalties they may face for conspiring against another party.
Conspiracy is a unique area of law, and it can be charged under federal law as well as state law in many situations. If you are facing conspiracy charges, it is a good idea to consult a Maryland conspiracy lawyer who understands how the offense is prosecuted and how to make best use of the available defenses. A knowledgeable attorney could explain the potential penalties in your case as well as your options for fighting the charges. Your attorney may also work to collect and preserve vital evidence and provide experienced representation throughout the proceedings to help you reach a positive result. To learn more, call for a consultation.
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