Even if someone does not actually commit a crime, the act of planning to commit one can itself be a federal offense resulting in lengthy prison terms upon prosecution and conviction. That said, the United State Code defines the crime of conspiracy somewhat broadly, which means federal authorities often pursue charges of this nature on less than solid grounds.
If you stand accused of conspiring against any agent or agency of the U.S. government, speak with a South Carolina federal conspiracy lawyer about your legal options. This kind of accusation can be challenging to contest in an effective and proactive way, so help from an experienced federal defense attorney could be vital to preserving your rights and future prospects.
According to 18 U.S.C. § 371, the federal crime of conspiracy occurs when two or more people make a plan—or “conspire”—to defraud the United States. Per this statute, at least one of the involved parties must take some action in furtherance of the criminal plan. Simply agreeing informally to defraud the U.S. or otherwise violate federal law is not sufficient evidence for a conviction—there must be an overt act by one or more conspirators that meaningfully brings the plan closer to being realized.
That said, there does not need to be a written agreement or even necessarily a great deal of interaction between the involved parties for a federal conspiracy charge to stick. If two people only agree verbally to commit a federal offense, but only one of them works to bring that plan to fruition, they could both be subject to prosecution under federal conspiracy charges.
The way this law is structured is meant to discourage participation in criminal enterprises at any stage, as someone on the periphery of a crime could face federal charges based on this understanding of 18 U.S.C. § 371. A South Carolina federal conspiracy lawyer could go into further detail during a private consultation about how federal authorities approach this offense and what strategies might be available to effectively contest ensuing criminal charges.
Any person convicted of conspiring to commit a felony offense may be subject to a maximum five-year federal prison term. Additionally, any element of the conspiracy that occurred in South Carolina might simultaneously result in prosecution and additional charges at the state level.
If the underlying offense of the conspiracy is a misdemeanor, any sanctions imposed following a conviction cannot exceed the penalties associated with that offense. Once again, a dedicated lawyer in South Carolina could clarify on a case-by-case basis what repercussions a federal conspiracy charge might have both in and out of court. Then, a legal professional could work diligently to mitigate those repercussions on a defendant’s behalf.
In many situations, federal conspiracy laws allow courts to prosecute individuals who have not committed an explicitly illegal act. Under these circumstances, there is often room for skilled legal counsel to vigorously and effectively contest these charges on a defendant’s behalf.
Assistance from a South Carolina federal conspiracy lawyer could make a meaningful difference in your chances of a positive resolution to your case. Call today to learn more.