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. For example, in a case in which a person is charged with conspiracy to sell narcotics, the prosecution doesn’t have to produce drugs or evidence of drugs, and it often won’t do so.
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 to 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 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 benefits or profits — as in health care fraud, Medicare fraud, or Medicaid fraud. The crime of fraud can also take the form of a seller defrauding a purchaser by misrepresenting a product, such as offering a used car as “new.” Fraud schemes can sometimes rely on more than one person to perpetrate the fraud, which is why conspiracy charges are frequently levied 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 a criminal defense attorney who has experience with fraud cases. More information about fraud can be found here.
Who Can Be Charged?
Oftentimes, when one finds a large number of people charged in a conspiracy there are alleged participants that have never met nor spoken to one another and who do not know each other. In such cases it is not uncommon for someone who played a minor role in an agreement to be held responsible for drugs that other individuals trafficked.
The law of conspiracy allows prosecutors to bring in much more evidence than they would otherwise be able to admit. For example, the statements of alleged co-conspirators are often admitted without the legal protections that allow a defendant to confront his or her accuser.
Call David Benowitz Today
If you are facing federal conspiracy and 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 David Benowitz 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 court of action. Call (202) 600-9900 to schedule your initial, no-cost consultation.