conspiracy is simply an "agreement"
to commit a crime.
Conspiracy is committed when two or more
individuals join together
to commit a crime.
convicted of conspiracy, the prosecution
must prove the agreement and also prove a
substantial step (or overt act) was
taken in furtherance of the agreement.
However, the "overt act" does not
have to be illegal. (For example, it is
legal to own a car, but if a car is
purchased as part of an agreement to commit
a robbery, then purchasing the car might
also be an overt act).
punishment for conspiracy under Texas laws
is generally the same as the punishment for
the underlying crime agreed (for example
robbery). In the federal courts, the
crime of conspiracy is generally punishable
by up to five years in prison. Some federal
conspiracy statutes such as conspiracy to
deliver drugs, however, carry a greater
punishment (the same punishment as the
underlying drug charge).
Although it is illegal to engage in a
"conspiracy" to violate both Texas and
federal laws, the crime of conspiracy is
more often charged in federal drug or white
collar cases than in state crimes prosecuted
the term for a broad category of crimes
involving multiple actors coming together to
engage in concerted criminal activity. A
person or business generally is guilty of
conspiracy to commit a crime if that person
or business does one of the following:
the purpose of facilitating or promoting
its commission, agrees with another
person or business to engage in conduct
that constitutes a crime or an attempt
or solicitation of a crime; or
agrees to aid another person or business
in planning, committing, or attempting
to solicit a crime.
federal anti-conspiracy statutes are found
throughout the United States Code. In recent
years, a growing number of white collar
criminal prosecutions have included
allegations of conspiracy.
conspiracy charge offers the prosecution
several distinct advantages. Prosecutors
usually learn of a conspiracy while it is in
an early stage; thus, they may prosecute
before the underlying crime takes place. In
addition, prosecutors may be able to charge
defendants simultaneously and present
evidence against the group. When several
defendants stand trial together, juries
often perceive individual defendants to be
guilty by virtue of their association with
A key element
in prosecuting a defendant for conspiracy is
proving the agreement. The agreement that
forms the basis for conspiracy need not be
written, oral, or even explicit, but is
often inferred from the facts of the
specific case. If the parties meet and reach
an understanding to work for a common
purpose, there is an agreement. For example,
if the producers of a particular product
meet to exchange information on prices, and
later set identical prices, a prosecutor may
be able to prove they conspired to set
prices even though there was never an
explicit agreement to do so. Most criminal
conspiracy statutes also require that at
least one of the parties has committed an
overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.
procedural issue of great importance to
parties accused of conspiracy is whether
government prosecutors try to frame the
conspiracy as a "hub-and-spoke conspiracy"
or a "chain conspiracy." In a
hub-and-spoke conspiracy, many
parties (the spokes), conspire with one
person (the hub), but not with other
defendants. It is advantageous for a
defendant to have its actions characterized
as part of a hub-and-spoke conspiracy,
because that means that the conspiracies are
separate and disconnected.
contrast to a hub-and-spoke conspiracy, a
involves several parties as links in one
long criminal chain. Defendants in chain
conspiracies are responsible for the actions
of all participants in the chain, even if
they never met some of the other
participants in the chain.