Criminal conspiracy charges are extremely serious, with anyone involved in the planning of a crime, not just those who carried it out, liable to be charged and punished.
Conspiracy is also an “indictable only offence” which means it’s governed by a complex piece of law that requires careful and experienced handling by legal professionals. Should you find yourself facing a conspiracy charge it’s essential that you receive experienced legal support as quickly as possible.
What is a conspiracy to commit a crime?
A conspiracy charge occurs when a crime that involves two or more people is agreed upon and the outcome understood by the parties. The crime does not have to have been completed for a conspiracy charge to occur. If the offenders have developed plans to carry out the crime and begun to take steps to carry out those plans, they may be charged with conspiracy.
This means that even if someone involved in the planning withdrew from the plans, or were unable to carry them out, they could still be found guilty of the offence. The Criminal Law Act 1977 states that the act of agreeing to the potential crime is the criminal act in conspiracy cases.
This means that the scope of conspiracy charges can be wide but they can also be challenging for the prosecution to prove.
What are examples of conspiracy to commit a crime?
Conspiracy is a broad category of offence that could be brought for conspiring to commit any kind of criminal act. Some of the most common conspiracy case examples include:
- Conspiracy to commit a murder
- Conspiracy to commit an armed robbery
- Conspiracy to commit fraud
- Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice
- Conspiracy to supply drugs
- Conspiracy to commit burglary
- Conspiracy to kidnap
- Conspiracy to blackmail
If an individual has been party to discussions to commit a crime, then they may find themselves embroiled in a criminal investigation and facing a possible conspiracy charge even if they were not present when the crime was committed.
How is it proven?
Only very rarely will a conspiracy to commit a particular crime leave a paper trail. Conspirators will also usually try to erase any digital records of the crime. This means that the prosecution will normally have to show enough circumstantial or other evidence that a clear agreement was reached between the parties.
This can make conspiracy cases highly complex, particularly when there are a number of individuals who have been involved.
In order to prove a conspiracy the prosecution must be able to prove that a number of elements were in place:
- Two or more parties had an agreement.
- That agreement was to commit a criminal offence.
- There was a genuine intention to be a party to a criminal offence
- The defendant and one other party knew or intended that the components of the planned offence would exist at the time of the offence.
An agreement to commit a criminal offence also needs to include details of how it’s intended to carry out the act. For instance, if the act involves violence but one party was unaware that violence was intended, this may mean they would not be found guilty of criminal conspiracy in relation to that violent offence.
What is an indictable-only offence?
An indictable-only offence is one which can only be tried by indictment in the Crown Court with a jury present. Criminal conspiracy is an indictable-only offence, meaning that they must be tried in the Crown Court. Because of their seriousness, indictable-only offences can carry high sentences if the defendant is found guilty.
Because of the complexities of conspiracy cases as well as their seriousness, both defence and prosecution require experienced legal handling to secure a fair and favourable outcome.
What are the penalties for a criminal conspiracy?
Criminal conspiracy is a serious offence and can carry a long prison sentence. A number of factors will be taken into consideration when judgment is passed. These include:
- The defendant’s role in the conspiracy
- The nature and scale of the offence.
- The level of awareness the defendant had about the conspiracy
- Whether they were pressured, threatened or coerced by other parties to the offence.
- Whether or not they plead guilty.
- Any previous convictions.
Confidential & experienced legal support in conspiracy cases from Mandla Bhomra
If you are currently being investigated or prosecuted for conspiracy to commit a crime, it’s essential you receive experienced legal support immediately. At Mandla Bhomra, our experienced legal specialists can provide you with discreet professional advice and representation.
Contact us today for confidential advice.