Due to the severity of federal conspiracy charges, you can expect that if you are accused your case will be taken very seriously and fully investigated by law enforcement. Below, a Virginia federal conspiracy lawyer discusses what you should expect from an investigation and what agencies may be involved. To learn more call and schedule a consultation with an attorney today.
Every resource available to government law enforcement is available in conspiracy cases. They can use wiretaps, serve search warrants, and seize literally anything including:
Law enforcement can then analyze them fully to determine if any evidence exists inside those devices to prove a conspiracy.
An example would be if you are on the phone and agree to participate in some criminal activity while law enforcement has a wiretap in place. Or, similarly, if investigators execute a search warrant through which they seize a computer, and on that computer you exchanged emails with details of your planned criminal activity with your co-conspirators. In theses cases the investigators would have pretty strong evidence against you for conspiracy.
It depends on the crime of which you are accused and which law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over that type of crime. If you are being accused of a drug conspiracy, then it might be the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Agency. If it is some kind of tax fraud it might be the Internal Revenue Service investigating unit that is involved.
Generally, the FBI always has a hand in these types of investigations. There can be sub-agencies involved as well, but it really depends on the nature of the investigation.
Wiretaps are commonly used in cases where they feel a conspiracy is ongoing but there is no evidence crimes have been committed. If investigators can get a warrant in cases like that, then they will which allows them to search any devices that might have information.
Much of the investigation beyond that is talking to witnesses or people who might be involved and trying to get them to turn on their co-conspirators which can often be detrimental to your case. If they catch one person, they will attempt to turn that person against the rest of the group. Obviously, corroboration of the conspiracy from one of its members is very strong evidence against the other conspiracy members.
In a lot of cases, there is no need for this because the conspiracy will have nothing to do with your employment. However, in my experience they often do for myriad reasons, like to follow up on certain pieces of investigation or because they believe a work-issued mobile phone might have been used in furtherance of the conspiracy through phone calls or text messages. Law enforcement might ask to see that phone, and then contact the employer who is technically the owner of that phone, to advise them about the situation.
In many cases investigators may look for a reason to contact your employer.
One type of evidence that is unique to conspiracy cases is that hearsay rules do not always apply. Hearsay is the report by a witness of another person’s words that are in furtherance of the conspiracy. Hearsay usually is not allowed as evidence, but it can be used against you at conspiracy trials.
For example, if Jim and Bob are on trial for conspiracy to commit a burglary and Bob was overheard telling somebody about the plan, that statement can be used in Jim’s trial, despite the fact that Jim did not say it and that Bob may not be available for a cross examination.
Those exceptions are unique to conspiracy cases because of the nature of those charges. It is a thought crime, not a crime of actually doing something. The prosecutor must be able to prove what the co-conspirators’ thoughts were. If they have statements made by co-conspirators, those can be admissible against you for your crime.