Understanding Conspiracy Charges
Conspiracy is often charged in federal cases because it covers a broad range of conduct. To prove a conspiracy, a prosecutor only has to show that two or more people agreed to commit a federal offense, and at least one of the people did something — an “overt act” — to further the illegal agreement. The crime does not have to actually occur. In some federal jurisdictions, however, the government does not even have to prove an overt act. Additionally, in a case in which a person is charged with conspiracy to sell narcotics, the prosecution doesn’t have to show that each defendant had drugs in their possession.
The United States Code and Conspiracy
The United States Code contains several conspiracy statutes. The general conspiracy statute is contained in 18 U.S.C. Section 371 and makes it illegal to agree with another person to devise a criminal plan and defraud the United States government or to violate other federal laws. In narcotics cases, 21 U.S.C. Section 846 prohibits conspiracies to manufacture, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute unlawful controlled substances.
What is Fraud?
Fraud is a crime that is often charged along with conspiracy. Fraud is an attempt to gain money or value by a false representation of fact. One example would be an individual or health care provider misleading an insurance company in order to receive unearned benefits or profits — as in health care fraud, Medicare fraud, or Medicaid fraud. Prosecutors can also seek fraud charges against someone under a misrepresentation theory. Under this scenario, a prosecutor could, for example, seek to prove that the seller of a product defrauded a purchaser by misrepresenting the nature of the product, such as offering a used car as “new.” Fraud schemes can sometimes be perpetrated by more than one person, which is why conspiracy charges are frequently sought together along with federal fraud charges. If you have been accused of fraud or if you suspect you are being investigated for involvement in a fraud scheme, contact an experienced white collar criminal defense attorney who can assist in defending you with a fraud case. More information about fraud can be found here.
Who Can Be Charged?
Oftentimes, when a large number of people are charged in a conspiracy there are often alleged participants that have never met nor spoken to one another and who often do not know each other. In such cases it is not uncommon for someone who played a comparatively minor role in an agreement to be accused in the larger drug trafficking conspiracy with other players who allegedly had a much more significant role.
The law of conspiracy allows prosecutors to bring in much more evidence than they would otherwise be able to admit in cases where conspiracy is not charged. For example, the statements of alleged co-conspirators are often admitted without the usual safeguards that disfavor admitting co-defendant statements into evidence against the other defendants.
Call Terry Eaton Today
If you are facing federal conspiracy and/or fraud charges, or you have reason to believe you are under investigation for such charges, you should immediately contact a dedicated federal criminal defense attorney. Call Terry Eaton today to schedule a consultation in which he will be able to explain the process that you face and provide you with the information that you will need to determine your best course of action. Call (202) 600-9900 to schedule your initial, no-cost consultation.